A court-appointed psychiatric evaluation has found that Anders Behring Breivik, the Norweigian mass killed who murdered 777 people in two attacks on July 22, 2011, was legally insane when he committed the crimes, meaning he cannot face court or be sentenced to prison for his actions.
These findings must be upheld by the court's medical forensic board in order to commit Breivik to compulsory psychiatric care instead of prison. The evaluation is at odds with an earlier statement by Dr. Tarjei Rygnestad, head of the board of forensic psychologists assigned to the case, who told The Associated Press that Breivik was likely to be tried and imprisoned.
State prosecutor Svein Holden told reporters that the experts who interrogated Breivik concluded that the mass murderer had for many years been developing paranoid schizophrenia. The condition has changed him and made him into the person he is today, Holden said at a press conference in Oslo, Norway.
Psychologists Synne Serheim and Torgeir Husby conducted 13 interviews, lasting 36 hours in total, with Breivik. The interviews, held at high-security Ila prison, where supplemented by recordings of police interrogations with the Norwegian terrorist.
Based on their findings, Dr. Serheim and Dr. Husby are arguing that Breivik was psychotic at the time of the killings, and that his world, marked by anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim obsessions, was governed by delusion.
He lives in his own delusional universe, Holden said, and his thoughts and acts are governed by this universe.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that a social welfare inquiry into Breivik's past reveals he may have been sexually abused. A report 28 years ago, when he was four years old, indicated the future terrorist may have been molested, and the inquiry suggested the trauma may have contributed to his mental state.
The evaluation has no connection to the report submitted Nov. 30 (Nov. 29 in the U.S.).
Norway Still Reeling
The psychologists' findings come as Norway continues to be in shock from the brutal summer slayings, one of the worst terrorist attacks in the country's history.
On July 22, 2011, the notably peaceful nation was horrified as news unfolded on a series of terror attacks by an unknown gunman. Anders Behring Brevik first set off a car bomb outside government buildings in Oslo, but is far more infamous for his second attack: a shooting spree at a summer camp for the ruling Labour Party's youth wing.
Breivik killed 69 people on Utoya island, many of them teenagers, by posing as a police officer before opening fire on the defenseless minors. The youngest victim, Sharidyn Svebakk-Bohn,was just 14 years old.
Although he confessed to the terror attacks, Breivik has refused to plead guilty. He has told reporters that his crimes were atrocious but necessary, and that he was part of a holy crusade against multiculturalism and the Muslim invasion of Europe.
Report Will Be Reviewed
The 243-page report will need to be reviewed and approved by a panel from the Norwegian Board of Forensic Medicine before Breivik's sentence is decided. The NBFM could ask for additional information and add its own opinions, even changing the result despite the psychologists' findings.
Such an outcome, however, is exceedingly rare. According to ABC News, the court almost never rejects professional medical opinions when the psychologists are court-appointed, and it is likely that Breivik will indeed be found insane.
In Norway, the insanity defense requires that a defendant be in a state of psychosis while committing the crime. This requires proof that the defendant has lost all contact with reality and is no longer in control of his or her actions.
The terrorist's trial was scheduled for April 16, 2012, but Holden has said the report's review is likely to be concluded before Christmas 2011.
We have no doubts.
The official report comes as a surprise to many, and for some it is a shock that prompts outrage as well as disbelief. It was widely assumed that Brievik, though mentally unstable, would be charged in a criminal court, and sentenced to a minimum of 21 years in prison for his crimes (Norway has no death penalty).
This assumption was backed by the head of the very board whose psychologists delivered their verdict on Nov. 29. In July, Dr. Tarjei Rygnestad told AP that it was exceedingly unlikely that Breivik would be found insane. He pointed out the methodical, premeditated buildup to the bombing and the massacre, and the chilling execution of the terror attacks.
Speaking again on Nov. 29, however, Rygnestad said his opinion had been based on secondary information. He said he had yet to read the full report, but insisted that only an in-depth, one-on-one analysis of a patient could truly lead to an accurate depiction of his or her mental state.
As for Husby and Serheim, the two psychologists are certain their findings are sound.
We have no doubt when it comes to our conclusions, Husby said. It was a lot of work, demanding... He [Breivik] has cooperated well.
Could Be Released
If the court accepts the two doctors' conclusions, the anti-immigrant militant will be committed to a psychiatric institution in Norway. He will be held as long as he poses a threat to society.
This means that Anders Behring Breivik would be released if found to be healthy. He is likely to face periodic hearing to determine his current mental state, and could still be committed for life.