Oslo, Norway The self-described perpetrator of Norway’s deadly bombing and shooting rampage was ordered held in solitary confinement Monday after calmly telling a court that two other cells of collaborators stood ready to join his murderous campaign.
Anders Behring Breivik, who has admitted bombing the capital and opening fire on a youth group retreat on an island resort, told authorities he expects to spend the rest of his life in prison. Declaring he wanted to save Europe from “Muslim domination,” he entered a plea of not guilty that will guarantee him future court hearings and opportunities to address the public, even indirectly.
Norway has been stunned by the attacks and riveted by Breivik’s paranoid and disturbing writings. Hundreds thronged the courthouse, hoping to get their first glimpse of the man blamed for the deaths of 76 people — lowered Monday from 93. At one point, a car drove through the crowd and onlookers beat it with their fists, thinking Breivik might be inside.
Still, tens of thousands of Norwegians also defied his rhetoric of hate to gather in central Oslo to mourn the victims and lay thousands of flowers around the city.
Police believe Breivik, 32, acted alone, despite his grand claims in a 1,500-page manifesto that he belonged to a modern group of crusaders. But they have not completely ruled out that he had accomplices.
Judge Kim Heger ordered Breivik held for eight weeks, including four in isolation, noting his reference to “two more cells within our organization.”
In an interview published Monday, Breivik’s estranged father said he wished his son had killed himself instead of unleashing his rage on innocent people.
The outpouring of emotion stood in stark contrast to what prosecutor Christian Hatlo described as Breivik’s calm demeanor at the hearing, which was closed to the public over security concerns and to prevent a public airing of his extremist views. Hatlo said he “seemed unaffected by what has happened.”
Meanwhile, police revealed they had dramatically overcounted the number of people slain in the shooting spree on Utoya island, lowering the death toll there from 86 to 68. Police spokesman Oystein Maeland said police and rescuers were focused on helping survivors and securing the area, and may have counted some bodies twice, though he did not immediately explain how the errors occurred.
Police also raised the toll from a bombing outside the government’s headquarters in Oslo from seven to eight.
The sharp reduction in the death toll adds to a list of police missteps: They took 90 minutes to arrive at the island retreat after the first shot and survivors who called emergency services reported being told to stay off the lines unless they were calling about the Oslo bombings.
On Monday, the force revealed its entire Oslo helicopter crew had been sent on vacation and thus couldn’t be mobilized to the scene.
By contrast, Breivik, who donned a police uniform as part of a ruse to draw campers to him, appeared in total control during the island rampage, police official Odd Reidar Humlegaard said.
“He’s been merciless,” Humlegaard said.