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Norway massacre suspect makes first public court appearance

November 14, 2011 | 12:35 pm

Police stand guard before a court appearance by Anders Behring Breivik
At his first public court appearance, the Norwegian accused of a bombing and shooting rampage that killed 77 people in July described himself as a resistance leader and refused to plead guilty to terrorism charges even though he admitted to carrying out the attacks.

About 120 people, including survivors and family members of the victims, were allowed into the Oslo courtroom Monday for an appearance by Anders Behring Breivik, according to news reports. Hundreds more watched the proceedings via video link.

As at previous hearings, the 32-year-old suspect admitted to carrying out the July 22 attacks but denied violating the nation’s anti-terrorism laws. Breivik has said he was trying to ignite a revolution against what he describes as an Islamic invasion of Europe.

“I am a military commander in the Norwegian resistance movement,” Breivik was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. He rejected the court's jurisdiction because it “supports multiculturalism,” according to Reuters news agency.

The hearing was to decide whether to extend Breivik’s custody pending a trial tentatively set for April 16. The court prolonged his custody to Feb. 6 but decided to gradually lift restrictions on media access, visitors and mail, according to news reports.

Breivik has been held in solitary confinement since July 22.

He asked Monday if he could address survivors and victims' relatives, but was turned down. Survivors said he appeared nervous.

“The last time I saw him he actually aimed at me and fired,” 20-year-old Bjoern Ihler told Reuters.

Ihler was at the ruling Labor Party youth camp on the island of Utoya where 69 people, mostly teenage activists, were gunned down after a bomb exploded in front of a government building in Oslo.

"He fumbled a little and didn't catch anyone's eye," Ihler said of Breivik's court appearance. "On the island, he seemed very cold, calculated and precise in his movements.”

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 -- Alexandra Zavis in Los Angeles

Photo: Police stand guard before the appearance of Anders Behring Breivik at a courthouse in Oslo on Monday. Credit: Berit Roald / AFP/Getty Images

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