OSLO, Norway — The self-described perpetrator of the mass killing in Norway told authorities that that he expects to spend the rest of his life in prison but two other cells of his terror network remain free, officials said today.
Anders Behring Breivik has admitted bombing Norway’s capital and opening fire on a political youth group retreat, but he entered a plea of not guilty, saying he wanted to save Europe from Muslim immigration.
Prosecutor Christian Hatlo told reporters that Breivik was very calm and “seemed unaffected by what has happened.” He said Breivik told investigators during his interrogation that he never expected to be released.
Police announced, meanwhile, that they had dramatically overcounted the number of people slain in a shooting spree at a political youth group’s island retreat and were lowering the confirmed death toll from 86 to 68.
The overall toll in the attack now stands at 76 instead of 93. Police spokesman Oystein Maeland said that higher, erroneous figure emerged as police and rescuers were focusing on helping survivors and securing the area, but he did not immediately explain more about how the overcounting occurred.
Police also raised the toll from a bombing outside the government’s headquarters in Oslo before the shooting spree, from seven to eight.
The dramatic reduction in the death toll adds to a list of police misteps. They took 90 minutes to arrive at the island from the first shot, and people who called emergency services have reported being told by operators to stay off the lines unless they were calling about the Oslo bombings.
Peaceful, liberal Norway has been stunned by the bombing in downtown Oslo and the shooting massacre at a youth camp outside the capital, which the suspect said were intended to start a revolution to inspire Norwegians to retake their country from Muslims and other immigrants. He blames liberals for championing multiculturalism over Norway’s “indigenous” culture.
Police have said Breivik used two weapons during the rampage — both of which were bought legally, according to the manifesto. A doctor treating victims told The Associated Press that the gunman used illegal “dum-dum”-style bullets bullets designed to disintegrate inside the body and cause maximum internal damage.
The court ordered him Breivik held for eight weeks while prosecutors investigate, four of which will be in isolation, saying Breivik could tamper with evidence if released. Typically, the accused is brought to court every four weeks while prosecutors prepare their case, so a judge can approve his continued detention. Longer periods are not unusual in serious cases.
Breivik made clear in an Internet manifesto that he planned to turn his court appearance into theater, preparing a speech for his appearance in court even before launching the attacks, then requesting an open hearing in which he would wear a uniform. Both of those requests were denied.
The suspect has said staged the bombing and youth camp rampage as “marketing” for his manifesto calling for a revolution that would rid Europe of Muslims.
“The operation was not to kill as many people as possible but to give a strong signal that could not be misunderstood that as long as the Labor Party keeps driving its ideological lie and keeps deconstructing Norwegian culture and mass importing Muslims then they must assume responsibility for this treason,” according to the English translation of Heger’s ruling that was read out after the hearing.
Breivik alluded to two other “cells” of his network — which he imagines as a new Knights Templar, the medieval cabal of crusaders who protected Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. 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 group and were investigating claims that Breivik, and other far-right individuals, attended a London meeting of the group in 2002.
Reporters and locals thronged the courthouse on Monday ahead of the hearing for their first glimpse of Breivik since the assault. When one car drove through the crowd, people hit its windows and one person shouted an expletive, believing Breivik was inside.
In his 1,500-page manifesto, Breivik describes how he bought armor, guns, tons of fertilizer and other bomb components, stashed caches of weapons and wiping his computer hard drive — all while evading police suspicion and being nice to his neighbors.
One of those purchases appears to have been flagged by Norway’s police security service. The PST says it was alerted in March it to a suspicious purchase of an undisclosed product from a Polish chemical firm by Breivik.
Janne Kristiansen, the chief of PST, told national broadcaster NRK that the 120 kroner ($22) purchase set off an alert as part of a broader look at the company. But the transaction was legal and PST would have needed additional information to investigate further.
In his manifesto, Breivik describes a purchase of sodium nitrite from Poland, saying he “was concerned about customs seizing the package.” It was not clear if that was the purchase flagged.