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Sociologist: Norway killer Breivik's court rant will deter extremism

Lawyers for Anders Behring Breivik warned Norwegians would find his statement to the Court upsetting. Breivik spoke of carrying out "the most spectacular and sophisticated attack on Europe since World War II." During his statement, Breivik showed no remorse and made no admission of guilt. ITN's Paul Davies reports.  

An expert sociologist says the testimony of far-right mass killer Anders Breivik should not be curtailed because his “repellent” views and rambling speech will actually put people off extremism.

Professor Thomas Hylland Eriksen, who has been called as an expert witness in Breivik’s trial, said self-confessed killer’s beliefs about immigration were “widely shared” in an interview with British broadcaster ITN

In a scene unimaginable in many countries, Breivik this week got the chance to explain his fanatical views to the court and the world, unrepentant and dressed in a business suit. Prosecutors and lawyers for the families of his 77 victims even shook his hand.

The 33-year-old far-right militant gave a rambling hour-long address to the court on Tuesday, reading from a statement that essentially summarized the 1,500-page anti-Islamic manifesto he posted online before his bomb-and-shooting rampage nine months ago.

"The attacks on July 22 were a preventive strike. I acted in self-defense on behalf of my people, my city, my country," Breivik declared, demanding to be found innocent of terror and murder charges. "I would have done it again."

Breivik: I was motivated by goodness and 'would have done it again'

Breivik has five days to explain why he detonated a bomb outside government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight people, then drove to a nearby resort island, where he massacred 69 others, mostly teens, at a summer youth camp run by the governing Labor Party.

Breivik, who has admitted carrying out the grisly acts, boasted they were the most "spectacular" by a nationalist militant since World War II.

Breivik’s speech, which angered victims’ family members who were present, was not broadcast on television because of a court order preventing live feeds during the killer's testimony.

Sociologist Professor Thomas Hylland Eriksen, interviewed by ITN's Sam Datta-Paulin.

However, Professor Eriksen told ITN Breivik's speech was more likely to harm his cause.

Eriksen said:

"Parts of his world view are clearly widely shared, not by a majority but by substantial groups who feel globalization is not going their way, that their country is being invaded by a foreign alien enemy Muslims and feel that they are being ruled by spineless multiculturalists who don't see the dangers of Islam.

"I've been of two minds myself but I've reached a conclusion that it's a good thing to give him this platform because he doesn't appear credible, he's not very charismatic - he does't have ... the appeal that would attract people so I think he works more like a repellent, a mosquito repellent against right-wing extremism because people who see him realize how bad it would get if they are attracted to these crazy notions of purity of race."

On Monday, Norwegian prosecutors and even lawyers representing the families of victims shook Breivik's hand as the trial opened, raising some eyebrows. Prosecutors shaking hands with defendants would be a rare sight in the U.S., as well as in neighboring Sweden and other Nordic nations.

"That was a bit strange," said John Christian Elden, who represents some survivors but is not participating in the trial.

Breivik had asked to wear a uniform in court in pretrial hearings but was rebuffed, and he appeared at the trial in a business suit and tie, his thinning hair neatly combed.

"We don't have orange jumpsuits and that kind of thing in Norway," his lawyer Geir Lippestad said. "This is a completely normal way to dress in a Norwegian court, even in a serious criminal matter."

'Childishly defiant'
On Wednesday Breivik  told the court he had been inspired by Serbian nationalism.

Anders Breivik to Norway court: I killed 77 people but am not guilty

Asked how he had changed from a teenage vandal on Oslo's prosperous west side to a methodical killer, he said he helped found a militant group called the "Knights Templar" in 2001 but refused to give any details to back up the claim. 

The original Knights Templar were a medieval brotherhood of European knights that pursued anti-Islamic crusades. 

Breivik deflected five straight questions about supposed allies and repeatedly tried to tell prosecutors how to phrase themselves. He became visibly irritated and swiveled a pen in his hand. 

Breivik's trial, to last 10 weeks, turns on the question of his sanity and thus whether he can be jailed. He has said that an insanity ruling would be "worse than death." 

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He came off as "childishly defiant," Tore Sinding Bekkedal, a survivor of the island massacre, said during a break on Wednesday. "He's trying to steer the proceedings and failing." 

If found mentally sane — the key issue to be decided in the trial — Breivik could face a maximum 21-year prison sentence or an alternate custody arrangement that would keep him locked up as long as he is considered a menace to society.

If declared insane he would be committed to psychiatric care for as long as he's considered ill.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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