Norway mass killer Anders Behring Breivik claims self-defense in bomb-and-shooting massacre

Accused Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik gestures as he arrives at the courtroom April 16, 2012, in Oslo, Norway. AP Photo

Last Updated at 10:14 a.m. ET

(AP) OSLO, Norway - With a defiant closed-fist salute, a right-wing fanatic admitted Monday to a bomb-and-shooting massacre that killed 77 people in Norway but pleaded not guilty to criminal charges, saying he was acting in self-defense.

On the first day of his long-awaited trial, Anders Behring Breivik rejected the authority of the court as it sought to assign responsibility for the July 22 attacks that shocked Norway and jolted the image of terrorism in Europe.

Dressed in a dark suit and sporting a thin beard, Breivik smiled as a guard removed his handcuffs in the crowded court room. The 33-year-old then flashed his salute before shaking hands with prosecutors and court officials.

"I don't recognize Norwegian courts because you get your mandate from the Norwegian political parties who support multiculturalism," Breivik said in his first comments to the court.

Reporters attend the opening of the trial of right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik (third from left), who admits to killing 77 people in twin attacks in Norway last year, at Oslo district courtroom on April 16, 2012.
HEIKO JUNGE/AFP/Getty Images

Eight people were killed in Breivik's bombing of Oslo's government district and 69 were slain in his shooting massacre at the left-leaning Labor Party's youth camp on Utoya island outside the capital. Breivik has said the attacks were necessary to protect Norway from being taken over by Muslims.

"I admit to the acts, but not criminal guilt," he told the court, insisting he had acted in self-defense.

Special Section: Massacre in Norway
Psych analysis finds Norway massacre suspect sane
Norway mass killer: I deserve medal of honor

The key issue to be resolved during the 10-week trial is the state of Breivik's mental health, which will decide whether he is sent to prison or into psychiatric care. Anxious to prove he is not insane, Breivik will call right-wing extremists and radical Islamists to testify during the trial, to show that others also share his view of clashing civilizations.

Norway's NRK television was broadcasting parts of the trial live but was not allowed to show Breivik's testimony.

During Monday's opening session, he remained stone-faced and motionless as prosecutors read the indictment on the terror and murder charges, with descriptions of how each victim died, and when they explained how he prepared for the attacks.

But Breivik suddenly became emotional when prosecutors showed an anti-Muslim video that he had posted on YouTube before the killing spree, wiping away tears on his cheek with trembling hands.

Public prosecutors Svein Holden (right), Inga Bejer Engh and an unidentified police operator show illustrations pertaining to equipment and materials used by right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik in his shooting attacks, at the opening of his trial in Oslo, April 16, 2012.
HEIKO JUNGE/AFP/Getty Images

After a lunch break, Breivik was again expressionless as he watched prosecutors present surveillance footage of the Oslo explosion. The blast ripped through the high-rise building that housed government headquarters, blowing out windows and filling surrounding streets with smoke and debris.

He didn't flinch as prosecutors played a three-minute recording of a young woman's frantic phone call to police from Utoya.

"Shots have been fired," Renate Taarnes, 22, said with panic in her voice. "I'm pretty sure that there are many injured."

More than a dozen shots in close succession could be heard as Taarnes fell silent.

"Are you still there?" the police officer asked.

"Yes," she whispered. She fell silent again, breathing into the phone as more shots cracked in the background.

Taarnes escaped the massacre unharmed and is scheduled to testify later in the trial.

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.