Wednesday, July 27, 2011

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Norway gunman claims active network of partners

  • Wednesday, July 27, 2011
  • Aruntha Kanagaratnam
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  • Norway: More than 100,000 Norwegians thronged central Oslo on Monday in a vigil for the victims of a last week’s attacks hours after the suspect told a court hearing that he had an active network of accomplices.

    Anders Behring Breivik, the gunman who said he was behind the massacre of 76 people, did not plead guilty and was remanded in custody for eight weeks while the investigation into last Friday’s twin gun and bomb attacks continues.

    As thousands of flower-carrying Norwegians filed through the city centre in an overwhelming show of both grief and solidarity, even Behring Breivik’s father said he wished his son had taken his own life.

    Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg admitted the country would be changed permanently by last Friday’s car bombing in Olso and mass shootings on a nearby island, but vowed to ensure it remains an open society.

    He told the grimly defiant crowd massed in the city centre: “Evil can kill a person but it cannot kill a people.”

    Meanwhile the head of the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST), Janne Kristiansen, said Behring Breivik had been flagged by the authorities back in March because of a purchase from a Polish business selling chemicals, but the incident was too insignificant to warrant a follow-up.

    It appeared at the time that “he lived a life that was incredibly respectful of the law.”

    Behring Breivik had been hoping to use his first court hearing as a platform to explain his actions to the public, but a judge ruled it be held behind closed doors and also barred the suspect from wearing a uniform in court.

    Judge Kim Heger said Behring Breivik would spend the first half of his eight weeks in custody in solitary confinement, as police investigate a claim he made during the hearing that he has built an active network of accomplices.

    Briefing reporters after the arraignment, the judge said the self-styled Crusader told the court he wanted Muslim colonisation of Europe to end.

    “The operation was not aimed at killing the largest number possible, but to send a powerful signal that couldn’t be mistaken,” Heger said.

    Before the attack, Behring Breivik wrote a 1,500-page manifesto in which he boasted he was one of up to 80 “solo martyr cells” recruited across Western Europe to topple governments tolerant of Islam. The suspect also indicated to the judge that he had accomplices who were still at large. “It appears in the suspect’s police explanations and in today’s court appearance, he has made statements that require additional investigation — including a statement about ‘two further cells in our organisation’,” the judge said.

    Behring Breivik’s 40-minute court appearance came after the country marked a minute’s silence which was also observed across Scandanavia.

    But that was dwarfed by an evening vigil, where huge numbers flooded into the centre of the capital, many waving red and white roses.

    “Tonight the streets are filled with love,” Crown Prince Haakon told the vast crowd, which local media estimated at 150,000.

    It emerged Monday that the half-brother of Norway’s Princess Mette-Marit — an off-duty policeman — was one of the victims of the gun attack. “I think that ultimately he should have taken his own life rather than kill so many people,” the gunman’s estranged father Jens Breivik said in a Norwegian television interview conducted at his home in the south of France.

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