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Not to blame? Norway gunman criminally insane

Psychiatrists tasked with determining the mental state of Anders Behring Breivik when he carried out twin attacks in Norway have found him criminally insane. Oslo attacks in pics

world Updated: Nov 29, 2011 18:06 IST
Oslo,Anders Behring Breivik,twin attacks in Norway

Psychiatrists tasked with determining the mental state of Anders Behring Breivik when he carried out twin attacks in Norway have found him criminally insane, the VG daily reported on Tuesday on its website.

If confirmed, this would mean that the rightwing extremist who killed 77 people four months ago cannot be sentenced to prison but must undergo psychiatric care in a closed mental institution.

"The court-appointed psychiatrists have concluded that Anders Behring Breivik was sick when he killed 77 people," VG said, without revealing its sources.

The two psychiatrists, Synne Serheim and Torgeir Husby, delivered their finding to the Oslo district court Tuesday morning, and the prosecutor's office is scheduled to present the main outlines of the 240-page report at a press conference at 1:00 pm (1200 GMT).

According to VG, the psychiatrists concluded that Behring Breivik, 32, was suffering from "psychosis" -- a mental state that could alter his judgement leading up to and at the time of the attacks.

Husby said as he dropped off the report at the courthouse that the evaluation presented a clear assessment of Behring Breivik's mental state.

"We have no doubt when it comes to our conclusions," he told reporters.

The two psychiatrists held 13 interviews with Behring Breivik at the high-security Ila prison near Oslo where he is being held.

"It was a lot of work, demanding," Husby said, adding: "He has cooperated well."

Meanwhile, a social welfare inquiry into Anders Behring Breivik's family situation conducted 28 years ago when he was four years old hinted he may have been sexually abused, Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said quoting two independent but unnamed sources.

That evaluation has no connection to the report submitted Tuesday.

Tuesday's psychiatric evaluation will be examined by a committee of forensic experts in order to ensure that it meets professional requirements.

The court will have the final say on whether Behring Breivik can be held responsible for the crimes, though it generally follows the experts' recommendations.

Behring Breivik's trial is scheduled to open on April 16, 2012, and last for about 10 weeks.

The maximum prison sentence under Norwegian law for the type of attacks committed by Behring Breivik is 21 years, but he could stay behind bars longer if he is still considered a threat to society.

The July 22 massacre, the deadliest attacks committed in Norway in the post-war period, have profoundly shocked the normally-tranquil nation.

Behring Breivik first set off a car bomb outside government buildings in Oslo, killing eight people.

After that, he went to the island of Utoeya, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Oslo, where, disguised as a police officer, he spent nearly an hour and a half methodically killing another 69 people, most of them teenagers.

Although he has confessed to the facts, Behring Breivik has refused to plead guilty, claiming he was waging a war and that his actions were "atrocious but necessary."

He has said he was on a crusade against multiculturalism and the "Muslim invasion" of Europe.

Behring Breivik's lawyer Geir Lippestad meanwhile told Norwegian daily Dagsavisen on Tuesday that his client ought to receive a reduced sentence for not resisting arrest, for confessing to the crimes and for being cooperative.

"In my opinion, he has confessed unconditionally and he has collaborated with police, Lippestad said.

"The question of a reduced sentence will be raised," he said.

At the end of July, Lippestad said his client was probably "insane", an expression he later said he regretted, preferring instead to say he had "his own perception of reality."

First Published: Nov 29, 2011 17:29 IST