"Meeting Breivik was almost like meeting Hannibal," Eirik Johannesen, who spent 26 hours speaking with the 33-year-old extremist in prison, told the Oslo district court.Pierre-Henry Deshayes, the author of this AFP piece, makes a significant, if all too common error, in the bolded passage above. If Breivik is found to have been insane at the time of the crime, then he is disqualified from being found legally guilty. Instead, he would then be subject to involuntary commitment in a psychiatric facility. The underlying principle is that legal guilt requires a criminal intent which cannot exist in the insane mind. So while Breivik did indeed carry out the shootings and bombings, something he continues to proudly proclaim, the question of whether he is legally guilty is at the heart of the trial, and legal guilt requires a finding of sanity.
Johannesen was called by Breivik's defence to back its case that he was not crazy when he killed 77 people in Norway last year.
While Breivik's guilt is not in doubt, his sanity is at the heart of the ongoing trial in Oslo, where he stands charged with committing acts of terrorism in his twin attacks in and near the capital.[bolding mine]
He bombed a government building in Oslo, killing eight people, then shot dead another 69, mainly teens, who were attending a summer camp held by the ruling Labour Party's youth wing on the island of Utoeya.
He says his actions were to stop Norway falling victim to multiculturalism and a "Muslim invasion," and wants to be officially declared sane in a bid to ensure that his ideology is not written off as the ravings of a lunatic.
Johannesen told the court he was "completely convinced" that Breivik was not psychotic, attributing his radical views to political extremism and not mental illness.
"In light of his ideology, I don't think that he can be treated with therapy or with medicine," Johannesen said.
"He has created an identity to convince other right-wing extremists and fascists (to follow his example), an identity that doesn't correspond to who he really is. But not in a psychotic way," the psychologist added.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Breivik trial update
Anders Breivik's trial slogs on, with a psychologist today testifying that interviewing Breivik was akin to interviewing Hannibal Lecter, an analogy more memorable than perceptive, since Lecter, if memory serves, had an aesthetic agenda, while Breivik's was political. This leads naturally to the question of whether certain extremist right wing ideologies are themselves signs of madness.The psychologist testifying today at Breivik's trial says no.