Updated at 9:27 a.m. ET
OSLO - The defense lawyer for the man who confessed to the mass killings of government workers and Labor Party youth in Norway told The Associated Press on Tuesday that his client has asked how many people he killed.
Attorney Geir Lippestad told the AP that he did not answer the question from his client, Anders Behring Breivik, who surrendered to police at the end of a murderous rampage and has been held without access to the outside world since then.
Lippestad said in an exclusive interview Tuesday that his client sees himself as a savior. Breivik was ordered held in isolation and doesn't have access to visitors, the media or mail.
At least 76 people died in the rampage last week.
That chilling question furthers the portrait of Breivik that is emerging: The judge in his case said he was very calm, a police officer said he was merciless in his rampage, and his lawyer described him Tuesday as very cold.
Lippestad said at his first news conference that he considered the case for 10 or 12 hours before finally agreeing to take it because he felt the tragedy underscored the need to safeguard democratic traditions, like the right to defense counsel.
Later, in an exclusive interview, Lippestad said that the court must decide whether Breivik will be sentenced to prison or psychiatric care but he will never be released.
"It's not a question of whether he will be set free," the lawyer said. "He has confessed to the facts of the case, so that goes without saying."
It's also unclear what crime he would be convicted of in the end. It could be terrorism, the current charge, but also crimes against humanity, Lippestad told the AP.
Two psychiatric experts will evaluate Breivik to determine whether he is mentally ill, said Lippestad, adding that the nature of the crime suggests he is insane but that it's too early to say whether that will be his defense.
"This whole case has indicated that he's insane," he told reporters.
He later said that he did not know why his client chose him. He once worked in the same building as Breivik and Norwegian media have reported that he has defended neo-Nazis.
"My first reaction was of course that this is too difficult, but when I sat down with my family and friends and colleagues, we talked it through and we said that today it's time to think about democracy," Lippestad said.
He added: "Someone has to do this job, the police has to do their job and the judges do their job." He was speaking in English.
Breivik has confessed to last week's bombing in the capital and a rampage at a Labor Party retreat for young people, but he has pleaded not guilty to the terrorism charges he faces, claiming he acted to save Europe from what he says is Muslim colonization.
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"He expects that this is a start of war that will last for 60 years, but his mind is very ... well I don't want to comment more on his mind, but that's what he believes," Lippestad told reporters. "He looks upon himself as a warrior. And he started this war, and takes some kind of pride in that."
The suspect took drugs during his attack "to be strong, to be efficient, to keep him awake," Lippestad said. He claims he is part of an organization with several cells in Western countries, including two in Norway, Lippestad said. He said Breivik's family has not asked to see him.
Asked at the press conference if Breivik was giving him instructions for his defense, Lippestad said he wasn't and that he wouldn't take such instructions. He confirmed he's a member of the Labor Party but doesn't know whether the suspect is aware. Breivik has ranted against the party, accusing liberals of being ashamed of their culture and betraying Norway in their pursuit of a multiculturalist society.
Earlier, Norway's justice minister told reporters that employees from his department are still missing. Police plan to start publicly naming the dead for the first time Tuesday.
There is a particular focus on identifying the dead since authorities dramatically lowered the death toll Monday, apparently because they counted 18 bodies twice in the confusion following the massacre. They initially said 86 people died on the island, but now say the figure is 68.
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"The Justice Ministry has people who are missing, we have people who are very hard hit by this and we are without offices," minister Knut Storberget told reporters.
Storberget also offered a defense of the police in response to a question about the mounting admissions of missteps.
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Police have acknowledged that they took 90 minutes to reach Utoya island, where the gunman was picking off young people attending a retreat for the Labor Party's youth wing. They weren't able to deploy a helicopter because the entire crew had been sent on vacation. Victims who called emergency services from the midst of the massacre reported being told to stay off the line because authorities were dealing with the Oslo bombing.
"I feel the police have delivered well in this situation. I also feel they've delivered especially well on the points where there's been criticism raised," said Storberget.