Historic July 22 trial begins

Photo: Bilge Öner / AktivIOslo.no Red roses outside of the Oslo Tinghus (court house) on the first day of the trial on April 16.

Highly-anticipated trial of July 22 perpetrator Anders Behring Breivik begins

On April 16, the trial of Anders Behring Breivik began. Breivik has been charged with terrorism and murder of the July 22, 2011, bombing and shootings that killed 77 people. “I acknowledge the acts but do not plead guilty, and I claim I was doing it in self-defense,” Breivik told the court in Oslo.

He also announced that he did not recognize the authority of the Norwegian court. Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen replied brusquely that she would make a note of it.

During the proceedings, the list of names of the dead and injured from the bombing in Oslo and the attacks on the island of Utøya were read. Breivik showed no emotion during this part of the trial.

However, when one of his own propaganda videos was played for the court, the 33-year-old began to cry. Several media sources consulted lip-reading experts to interpret what Behring Breivik said to his lawyers during the breakdown.

According to some media sources, Behring Breivik said that he took to tears because it was an emotional film for him. At the press conference after the court was adjourned, the lawyers were asked what they thought about the lip-reading.

The court also played tapes of one girl’s phone call to an emergency dispatcher while on the island of Utøya. Shots could be heard in the background. Pictures were also shown from both the destroyed government quarter in Oslo as well as Utøya.

The media circus surrounding the trial is of astronomical proportions. International media correspondents from around the world are present at the trial. CNN even has dedicated one reporter’s Twitter account exclusively to the trial.

Many Norwegians are not too happy about the massive coverage of the trial, since many of their local news sources are also dedicating much of their manpower and reporting to it.  “I think it will be easier to control this myself if I’m not in Oslo,” said Utøya survivor Per Anders Langerød to Aftenposten. He has traveled to Germany for two weeks in hopes of avoiding the massive media coverage.

“Some want to deactivate their Facebook accounts and social media and stay away from online newspapers. Others would like to follow the ongoing negotiations every day. People feel very differently about it and take different actions. For my part, it is the best therapy to live as normally as possible. I will not let this matter occupy me too much,” said Langerød to Aftenposten.

During the next stretch of the trial, between April 16 – 22, Breivik will be allowed to testify before the court.

This article originally appeared in the April 20, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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