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Breivik drops far-right salute

19 April 2012, 10:43

Oslo - Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway last July, refrained from making his habitual far-right salute on Thursday after objections from survivors and victims' families.

The 33-year-old right-wing extremist, had started each trial day this week with what he has described as a far-right "clenched-fist salute" after his handcuffs were removed, touching his chest and extending his clenched right fist in front of him.

But on the fourth trial day, the gunman dressed in a black suit and a black and white striped tie dropped the move.

On Wednesday, lawyers for the survivors and the victims's families said their clients had objected to the gesture, and Breivik's lawyers said they had informed him of the complaint and asked him to avoid it on Thursday.

"We have discussed it with him... We hope he will take this into consideration tomorrow," Breivik's main lawyer Geir Lippestad told reporters on Wednesday evening, adding "We hope he won't do it."

On the third day of his trial, the accused was far less co-operative than he had been when he began giving testimony on Tuesday, refusing to answer more than 100 of the prosecution's questions.

Acquittal or death

He balked especially at questioning about a network of far-right militants called the Knights Templar, which Breivik claims to be part of but which the prosecution says doesn't exist, and his contacts with extremists in Liberia and London.

"You are trying to sow doubt about whether the network exists," he said, insisting though that he had not made up his contacts and claiming that there are in fact two other one-man cells in Norway "planning attacks" and who could strike at any time.

Breivik also told the court there were only two "legitimate outcomes of this case: Acquittal or the death penalty", deriding Norway's maximum 21-year prison sentence as "pathetic".

Breivik will only get prison if the court deems him sane - something he is fighting for so as not to delegitimise his Islamophobic and anti-multicultural ideology.

While the sentence then would be the maximum 21 years, it could be extended indefinitely if he is still considered a threat to society.

If found insane he could be sentenced to closed psychiatric care, possibly for life.

Cruel but necessary

On 22 July, Breivik first killed eight people last July when he set off a bomb in a van parked outside buildings housing the offices of Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who was not present at the time.

He then travelled to Utoya island where, dressed as a police officer, he spent more than an hour methodically shooting at hundreds of people attending a Labour Party youth summer camp.

The shooting spree claimed 69 lives, mostly teens trapped on the small island surrounded by icy waters. It was the deadliest massacre ever committed by a lone gunman.

Breivik entered a plea of not guilty at the start of his trial, saying his acts were "cruel but necessary".



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