This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
REPORTING FROM LONDON -– A new psychiatric evaluation of confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik has concluded that he is sane, contradicting a previous assessment of him as psychotic, court officials in Oslo announced Tuesday.
The finding comes a few days before Breivik’s trial is scheduled to begin, and throws into question what kind of sentence the 33-year-old could receive, whether imprisonment or psychiatric treatment.
Breivik has confessed to carrying out the twin attacks in Norway last July that claimed the lives of 77 people. A car bombing in the center of Oslo, the Norwegian capital, was followed by a massacre on the island of Utoya, where the heavily armed Breivik calmly hunted down and picked off young people gathered at a politically themed summer camp.
Breivik says he intended for the attacks to ignite a revolution to reclaim Europe from Muslim immigrants.
In a lengthy, rambling manifesto posted on the Internet, he called himself a “knight” on a crusade to prevent “cultural suicide” by “indigenous Europeans” too misguided to stand up for their own Christian heritage.
The massacre was Norway’s worst-ever peacetime atrocity, and raised alarm throughout Europe over the rise of right-wing extremism.
Last November, a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation judged Breivik to be criminally insane, a controversial finding that would most likely result in his transfer from prison to a mental hospital for long-term treatment. But Breivik himself rejected the conclusion, saying he not only knew what he was doing but that it was the right thing.
The new report says that he was not psychotic either at the time of the attacks or presently. The evaluators also concluded that there was a high risk of another violent outburst.
[Updated April 10, 9:32 a.m.: “The defendant does not have a serious mental illness involving significantly weakened capacity for realistic evaluation of his relations with the outside world, and did not act under severely impaired consciousness at the time of the act under prosecution,” the summary said.
Two evaluators who interviewed Breivik and observed him for three weeks also warned of a “high risk of repetition of violence.” Geir Lippestad, Breivik’s lawyer, told reporters Tuesday that his client would not only defend his actions in court but would also express “regret that he didn’t go further.”]
Breivik's trial is expected to start Monday and last through June.
-- Henry Chu
Photo: Confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik at a court appearance in Oslo in February. Credit: Daniel Sannum Lauten / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images