Norway Suspect Appears At Closed Court Hearing

The man who's confessed to carrying out the deadly twin attacks in Norway was in court Monday. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks to Teri Schultz in Oslo about Anders Behring Breivik's brief appearance before a judge, his first since Friday's bombing and shooting spree.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

And I'm Mary Louise Kelly.

The man who's confessed to carrying out the deadly twin attacks in Norway was in court today. He put in a brief appearance before a judge, his first since Friday's bombing and shooting spree.

Anders Behring Breivik is accused of killing dozens of people in downtown Oslo and on an island youth camp. Authorities there just revised the death toll to 76.

From Oslo, Teri Schultz joins us now.

TERI SCHULTZ: Hi, Mary Louise.

KELLY: So we understand in court this morning, Breivik pleaded not guilty. What happened?

SCHULTZ: Well, we're actually not surprised that he pleaded not guilty, because he has expressed through his lawyer the same thing earlier. And that is not to say that he doesn't admit carrying out these acts. And he even admits they were heinous acts. But what he says is they were necessary acts, and therefore cannot be considered criminal. He says, in fact, he should be considered a hero for what he's done because he's saving not just Norway, but all of Western Europe from what he calls cultural Marxism and Islamization - too many Muslim immigrants coming in.

So he says, yes, I did it. It's not a criminal act.

KELLY: Hm. Now, he is being charged with murder. Will he be held until this comes back up before a judge again?

SCHULTZ: Absolutely. He's being charged with murder under the terrorism law in Norway. And these two acts were immediately considered acts of terrorism. And that is - that's the strongest sentencing he can possibly get under Norwegian law. I will note - and this may shock some of our American listeners - that the strongest sentence, the maximum sentence you can get in Norway is 21 years in prison.

KELLY: Although that could be extended if he's seen as posing a threat - an ongoing threat.

SCHULTZ: Exactly. He can be kept in prison, basically, effectively, the rest of his life. But his initial sentence will be 21 years. And there's no death penalty anywhere in Europe, including in Norway, so that's not a possibility.

What the judge said today is that Breivik has no chance of getting out right now. He'll be kept in custody for at least eight weeks, which is what the prosecution asked for to start preparing their case. And interestingly, he will be kept in complete confinement, solitary confinement, for the first month. And all of this eight weeks will be without receiving any visitors, any letters, any news at all.

KELLY: OK. So he could serve as much as 21 years if he's eventually found guilty. Tell us a tiny bit more about today's hearing, Teri. This was a closed hearing. The thinking is so to prevent this from becoming a public platform for Breivik?

SCHULTZ: Yeah, that's right. He had asked for it to be an open hearing, and he also wanted to wear a uniform. No one knows what kind of uniform, but both requests were denied.

And it turns out, we learned from the judge later, that one of the reasons they closed the hearing is because Breivik was bragging about having more contacts in what he called his terror cell. And they were also worried that if this is true, he could use the hearing to tip off these other collaborators, and possibly set in effect more terror attacks. No one knows if it's true, but they're certainly not taking any chances.

KELLY: OK. Lots more details still to watch there. Thanks very much, Teri.

SCHULTZ: You're welcome.

KELLY: That's reporter Teri Schultz, reporting from Oslo, Norway.

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