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Lawyer: Suspect in Norway terror attacks will never be freed, case suggests he's insane
OSLO, Norway (AP) ' The defense lawyer for the man who confessed to the mass killings of government workers and Labor Party youth in Norway told The Associated Press on Tuesday that there's no way his client will walk free, saying Anders Behring Breivik's rampage was absurd and horrible and he's likely insane.
Geir Lippestad said at his first news conference that he considered the case for 10 or 12 hours before finally agreeing to take it because he felt the tragedy underscored the need to safeguard democratic traditions, like the right to defense counsel.
Later, in an exclusive interview, Lippestad said that the court must decide whether Breivik will be sentenced to prison or psychiatric care ' but he will never be released.
"It's not a question of whether he will be set free," the lawyer said. "He has confessed to the facts of the case, so that goes without saying."
It's also unclear what crime he would be convicted of in the end for the killing of 76 people. It could be terrorism, the current charge, but also crimes against humanity, Lippestad told the AP.
Two psychiatric experts will evaluate Breivik to determine whether he is mentally ill, said Lippestad, adding that the nature of the crime suggests he is insane but that it's too early to say whether that will be his defense.
"This whole case has indicated that he's insane," he told reporters.
He later said that he did not know why his client chose him. He once worked in the same building as Breivik and Norwegian media have reported that he has defended neo-Nazis.
"My first reaction was of course that this is too difficult, but when I sat down with my family and friends and colleagues, we talked it through and we said that today it's time to think about democracy," Lippestad said.
He added: "Someone has to do this job, the police has to do their job and the judges do their job." He was speaking in English.
Lippestad also told the AP that his client asked how many people he killed and he did not answer. Breivik was ordered held in isolation and doesn't have access to visitors, the media or mail.
That chilling question furthers the portrait of Breivik that is emerging: The judge in his case said he was very calm, a police officer said he was merciless in his rampage, and his lawyer described him Tuesday as very cold.
Breivik has confessed to last week's bombing in the capital and a rampage at a Labor Party retreat for young people, but he has pleaded not guilty to the terrorism charges he faces, claiming he acted to save Europe from what he says is Muslim colonization.
"He expects that this is a start of war that will last for 60 years. but his mind is very ... well I don't want to comment more on his mind, but that's what he believes," Lippestad told reporters. "He looks upon himself as a warrior. And he started this war, and takes some kind of pride in that."
The suspect took drugs during his attack "to be strong, to be efficient, to keep him awake," Lippestad said. He claims he is part of an organization with several cells in Western countries, including two in Norway, Lippestad said. He said Breivik's family has not asked to see him.
Asked at the press conference if Breivik was giving him instructions for his defense, Lippestad said he wasn't and that he wouldn't take such instructions. He confirmed he's a member of the Labor Party but doesn't know whether the suspect is aware. Breivik has ranted against the party, accusing liberals of being ashamed of their culture and betraying Norway in their pursuit of a multiculturalist society.
Earlier, Norway's justice minister told reporters that employees from his department are still missing. Police plan to start publicly naming the dead for the first time Tuesday.
There is a particular focus on identifying the dead since authorities dramatically lowered the death toll Monday, apparently because they counted 18 bodies twice in the confusion following the massacre. They initially said 86 people died on the island, but now say the figure is 68.
"The Justice Ministry has people who are missing, we have people who are very hard hit by this and we are without offices," minister Knut Storberget told reporters.
Storberget also offered a defense of the police in response to a question about the mounting admissions of missteps.
Police have acknowledged that they took 90 minutes to reach Utoya island, where the gunman was picking off young people attending a retreat for the Labor Party's youth wing. They weren't able to deploy a helicopter because the entire crew had been sent on vacation. Victims who called emergency services from the midst of the massacre reported being told to stay off the line because authorities were dealing with the Oslo bombing.
"I feel the police have delivered well in this situation. I also feel they've delivered especially well on the points where there's been criticism raised," said Storberget.
When asked if police would open an investigation into their conduct, Storberget indicated that such a probe was for the future.
"It's very important that we have an open and critical discussion about how all sections of society handle a situation. ... But there's a time for everything, and we have been fully focused and continue to be focused on taking care of all those that have been affected," said Storberget.
Breivik made his first appearance in court on Monday to answer the terrorism charges against him.
While 21 years is the stiffest sentence a Norwegian judge can hand down, a special sentence can be given to prisoners deemed a danger to society, who are locked up for 20-year sentences that can be renewed indefinitely.
In Breivik's court appearance, he alluded to two other "cells" of his network ' which he refers to in his manifesto as a new "Knights Templar," the medieval cabal of crusaders who protected Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land.
In the treatise, he describes being invited to join the group, which he says is dedicated to "anti-jihad," and claims members held meetings in London and the Baltics. Afterward, he says, they vowed not to contact one another and to instead plan their "resistance" on their own.
But they were also to space out their attacks, he wrote. "We should avoid any immediate follow-up attacks as it would negate the shock effect of the subsequent attacks. A large successful attack every 5-12 years was optimal," he wrote.
At one point, his manifesto briefly referred to an intention to contact two other cells, but no details were given.
European security officials said they were aware of increased Internet chatter from individuals claiming they belonged to the Knights Templar and were investigating claims that Breivik, and other far-right individuals, attended a London meeting of the group in 2002.
Associated Press writers Louise Nordstrom, Ian MacDougall and Sarah DiLorenzo contributed to this report.