OSLO, Norway — The man who confessed to the massacre that has rocked Norway is unaware of the impact of the attacks and asked his defense counsel how many people he had killed, the lawyer told The Associated Press on Tuesday, adding that his client is likely insane.
That chilling question furthers the emerging portrait of Anders Behring Breivik: The judge in his case described him as very calm, a police officer said he was merciless in his spree, and his lawyer added Tuesday that he was very cold, but saw himself as a savior.
Breivik has confessed to last week’s bombing in the capital and a rampage at a Labor Party retreat for young people that left at least 76 people dead, 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.
Defense counsel Geir Lippestad said Breivik took drugs to “to be strong, to be efficient, to keep him awake” during the 90-minute attack at the camp.
Lippestad said in an exclusive interview that he did not answer Breivik’s question about the death toll. The brutal assault has stunned peaceful, liberal Norway — but also appears to have brought its citizens together.
About 150,000 people filled the streets of Oslo on Monday, laying roses feet deep in the street as they mourned the dead and vowed that Norway’s commitment to democracy could not be shaken. Police said the names of some of the dead would be released Tuesday at 1600 GMT (Noon EDT).
Lippestad said his client, who claims he is part of an organization with several cells in Western countries, is likely insane.
“He asked me if was if I was shocked and if I could explain to him what happened,” Lippestad said. “He didn’t know if he had succeeded with his plan.”
But Lippestad said in an earlier news conference that his client felt the operation was going ahead as planned and had assumed that he would have been stopped by police sooner than he was. About 90 minutes into his rampage, a SWAT team reached him, and he surrendered.
The attacks began with a bombing outside the building that houses the prime minister’s office in Oslo. Then, Breivik opened fire on an island retreat for the youth wing of the Labor Party, leaving dozens dead and hundreds scrambling to escape, many diving into the water to try to swim away.
While Breivik says he acted alone, and police believe he didn’t have any accomplices, the accused claimed that several cells of his terror organization exist abroad, including two in Norway, Lippestad told an earlier news conference, his first since taking the case.
Breivik has been charged with acts of terrorism, but Lippestad told the AP that he could also be charged with crimes against humanity. Although the stiffest sentence in Norway is 21 years, the lawyer said his client would never be set free.
“His reason (for the attacks) is that he wants to start a war against democracy, against the Muslims in the world, and as he said he wants to liberate Europe and the Western world,” said Lippestad.
Asked how his client looks up himself, he said: “As a savior, some kind of savior.”
Two psychiatric experts will evaluate Breivik to determine whether he is mentally ill, said Lippestad, adding 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.
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.
“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.
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.
When asked if police would open an investigation into their conduct, Storberget indicated that such a probe was for the future.
“It’s very important that we have an open and critical discussion about how all sections of society handle a situation. ... But there’s a time for everything, and we have been fully focused and continue to be focused on taking care of all those that have been affected,” said Storberget.
Breivik made his first appearance in court on Monday to answer the terrorism charges against him.
While 21 years is the stiffest sentence a Norwegian judge can hand down, a special sentence can be given to prisoners deemed a danger to society, who are locked up for 20-year sentences that can be renewed indefinitely.
In Breivik’s court appearance, he alluded to two other “cells” of his network — which he refers to in his manifesto as a new “Knights Templar,” the medieval cabal of crusaders who protected Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land.
In the treatise, he describes being invited to join the group, which he says is dedicated to “anti-jihad,” and claims members held meetings in London and the Baltics. Afterward, he says, they vowed not to contact one another and to instead plan their “resistance” on their own.
But they were also to space out their attacks, he wrote. “We should avoid any immediate follow-up attacks as it would negate the shock effect of the subsequent attacks. A large successful attack every 5-12 years was optimal,” he wrote.
At one point, his manifesto briefly referred to an intention to contact two other cells, but no details were given.
European security officials said they were aware of increased Internet chatter from individuals claiming they belonged to the Knights Templar and were investigating claims that Breivik, and other far-right individuals, attended a London meeting of the group in 2002.