Is Breivik Sane? Norway Can't Decide

By Criscione, Valeria | The Christian Science Monitor, June 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Is Breivik Sane? Norway Can't Decide


Criscione, Valeria, The Christian Science Monitor


Anders Behring Breivik's trial hinges on his sanity. Friday, the Norwegian Forensic Board said it's still uncertain about his state of mind after two psychiatric assessments.

The debate over conflicting psychiatric assessments of Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik, the man behind last summer's terror attacks that left 77 people dead, has ratcheted up again after the Norwegian Forensic Board said today that it is still not satisfied.

The board wrote in a letter to an Oslo court that there are "significant deficiencies" in the second report, which found him sane and contradicted the first report that deemed Mr. Breivik a paranoid schizophrenic.

However, several of those called in to give expert testimony throughout the trial say that Breivik's political ideology has not been considered enough and that with that taken into account, his actions seem less like those of an insane man.

Judge Wenche Arntzen said the board pointed out two deficiencies in the second report - concerning evaluation of personality disorders stemming from his childhood and the testimony given by Breivik's mother, which was not weighed heavily by the second set of psychiatrists.

The latest development could increase the likelihood that Breivik will be found insane and hence not criminally responsible for placing a car bomb outside government buildings and going on a shooting rampage at a Labor party youth summer camp on Utoya island in July 2011.

Defense Attorney Geir Lippestad, who at Breivik's request is fighting to have him found sane, told The Monitor he believes the Forensic Board places more weight on the first report than the second, but that the defense had no plans to change its witness list, which had already been expanded to include additional psychiatric experts.

"There are certain deficiencies with two premises (in the second report), such as 2006," said Lippestad, regarding the period when Breivik moved back in with his mother. The two psychiatrists behind that report say Breivik was not depressed at that time.

The news comes after testimony from a series of political and religious experts this week in which they criticized the first psychiatric report because, they say, it did not sufficiently take into account Breivik's extreme ideology. Their testimony lends support to Breivik's argument that he is sane.

Terje Emberland, senior researcher at the Holocaust Center in Oslo, told the court yesterday that after reading Breivik's manifesto and seeing his court appearance, he believed Breivik expressed "fascist tones" with his use of mythology and perception that civilization was being threatened by racial integration. …

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