As classified contents from Anders Behring Breivik’s mental assessment are released, several are demanding answers.
A need to know
Both Dagbladet and Aftenposten say they have extensive knowledge of other facts court-appointed psychiatrists Torgeir Husby and Synne Sørheim wrote in their 243-page report, other than his paranoid schizophrenia, psychosis, and that he was “criminally insane”.
Few details were released at Tuesday’s press conference, many were staggered by experts’ conclusions. Most Norwegians want the mass murderer to remain behind bars for the rest of his life, rather than undergo enforced psychiatric treatment.
Aftenposten also reports five murderers have escaped from care due to security regime breaches, and both court-appointed experts believe Breivik to be incurable. The terrorist has himself said he has plans to kill again, according to Dagbladet.
Breivik was “offended” at their conclusions. He had believed himself mentally fit to stand trial. Defence Counsel Geir Lippestad tells TV2 his client is now more “rational” about the report today, believing it has opened up new possibilities.
Whilst the mass murderer is displeased with leaks to the media, according to Mr Lippestad, others are demanding the entire report be made public.
“There’s a major problem with not disclosing everything,” Arne Seland, representing some of the Utøya victims and their families, says to Dagsavisen. He believes people need to see the whole picture in light of the surprise at the psychologists’ verdict.
Øyvind Strømmen, who has recently released a book about Right extremisn, anti-Jihadism, and terror in Europe has followed Breivik’s Internet blogging for several years.
He fears if the assessment is kept classified, it will mean, “We are then reliant upon random leakages to reveal whether emphasis has been put on the political aspect.”
Believing a pure medical diagnosis to be insufficient, he continues, “Why would he [Breivik] attack Utøya and bomb a government building if he was just a mad man? This has a political explanation.”
According to Mr Strømmen, others than Breivik can possess a distorted view of the world without necessarily having a mental disorder.
“Islamophobia cannot be reduced to clinical insanity,” he continues, warning a psychological viewpoint is not the only one that is valid.
Legal spanner in the works?
Meanwhile people cannot be declared criminally insane in Sweden, as the “soundness of mind” concept does exist in Swedish legislation.
Professor of Forensic Psychiatry Marianne Kristiansson says to Vårt Land, “the person would still be made accountable for their actions, even though they were considered to be psychologically mentally ill when committing the crime.”
“One is convicted and made liable for the offence, thereafter the court can decide the sentence must be served in the applicable psychiatric detention. There is a significant difference from Norwegian case law, where one is not punished legally.”
Many have criticised psychiatrists Torgeir Husby and Synne Sørheim for their findings.
“It must have been a special type of psychosis they concluded upon considering Breivik was able to act as methodically as he did,” stated Erling Johannes Husabø, Professor in Criminal Law at the University of Bergen, just hours after the conclusions were announced.
In the UK, defendants can plead diminished responsibility by arguing that they should not be held fully criminally liable, as their mental functions were diminished or impaired at the time of committing the offence.
An insanity defence, on the other hand, relates to the defendant being unable to understand either that he/she was doing anything wrong, or what he/she was carrying out.
Should Oslo District Court uphold its appointed psychiatrists’ conclusions, which has usually been the case in criminal trials, Anders Behring Breivik will be tried as normal, but sent for compulsory psychiatric treatment. This is reviewable every three years.
Under Norwegian law, “Transfer to compulsory mental health care will be upheld for as long as there is a need for such a sentence. Applying this form of sanction may therefore last for life, if the convicted person continues to represent a threat to society.”
The Associated Press quotes Swedish forensic psychiatrists Anders Forsman as saying, “It is difficult to see this as criminal insanity. He seems to have carried out the killings in a rational way. He is an efficient killing machine."
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