Breivik Deemed Sane, Prison Now Possible for Norwegian Gunman

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

Breivik Deemed Sane, Prison Now Possible for Norwegian Gunman


Criscione, Valeria, The Christian Science Monitor


The second psychiatric evaluation of Anders Behring Breivik contradicted an earlier conclusion of paranoid schizophrenia, making prison time possible for killing 77 people last summer.

A psychiatric report has declared Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik sane, making it more likely that the man who has confessed to twin terror attacks last summer in Norway's worst peacetime atrocity may serve prison time.

The 310-page report counters the first forensic report from November that controversially deemed Mr. Breivik paranoid schizophrenic, and therefore criminally not punishable for a car bomb in front of Oslo government buildings and a shooting rampage at a Labor party youth summer camp at the nearby island of Utoya. The two attacks killed 77 people altogether.

Psychiatrists Agnar Aspaas and Terje Torrisen concluded in the second report that Breivik was "not psychotic, unaware or severely handicapped at the time of the acts," nor was he psychotic during examinations. However, there was a "high risk of repetition of violence."

"The defendant does not have a serious mental illness involving significantly weakened capacity for realistic evaluation of his relations with the outside world," the Oslo District Court said in a press statement summarizing the confidential report.

The report changes the whole momentum of the trial. The judges, who have the final say in determining Breivik's sanity, now have the option of questioning the first report and concluding that he is sane. They will base their decision on both reports, as well as the evidence during the 10-week trial, set to start next week.

It also presents the possibility that prosecutors will seek a 21- year prison sentence for terror and murder acts for Breivik, instead of the current plan to seek having him committed to a mental institution. Although both the prosecutor and defense will be arguing for Breivik to be tried as sane, Breivik has not accepted criminal responsibility for the attacks.

"It is clear that this is an important premise for the case," said Svein Holden, Oslo public prosecutor, after receiving the thick copies of the second psychiatric report earlier today.

Experts suspected that the new set of psychiatrists would come to a different conclusion than the first set, given that they observed him night-and-day for three weeks in jail. The initial conclusion, which deemed Breivik paranoid schizophrenic, was quite controversial. Many pundits questioned how someone who had meticulously planned an attack over so many years could have been deemed psychotic.

The defense plans to argue Breivik is sane. …

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