Anders Behring Breivik’s fate may lie in how experts read his state of mind.
“This whole case has indicated that he is insane,” says his defence lawyer, Geir Lippestad.
If psychiatrists agree, Breivik would not be able to be sent to prison.
The killer may seem insane to ordinary people. But for some psychiatric experts, the degree of premeditation and organisation that went into Breivik’s massacre rules out mental illness.
“Do you think that most Nazis, or those in the world who at any rate organise in a military way the mass extermination of people, are all struck by mental illness?” asks criminologist Laurent Montet.
“No, of course not, they are people who for different reasons do it in a planned, premeditated and organised manner. This individual in Oslo, he is among the most organised that we’ve seen in terms of mass killers. So frankly, to plead mental illness is not admissible. It makes no sense.”
The 1,500-page manifesto Breivik posted online says much about his personality.
He quotes several works associated with the far right, and concludes that Europe’s glorious past has been poisoned by contemporary Western decadence.
Proponents of multiculturalism – and with it, Islam – are identified as targets in a war, he argues.
The document is part Crusaders’ accolade, part terrorists’ manual. Everything about Breivik’s operation is explained in detail. How he founded his own smokescreen company – Geofarm – to obtain the fertiliser necessary to build a bomb. How as far back as 2005 he joined a shooting club to be able to acquire weapons legally.
He describes in methodical detail the solitary killer’s gear: from bulletproof vest down to the socks he wears.
Breivik even recommends which types of steroid are best for building up muscles, and how to prepare mentally for the act itself.
The manifesto concludes with the killer’s diary, noting scrupulously his thoughts and activities in the months leading up to the atrocity.
He even lists his income, in his words so as not to be labelled an “insane, inbred, pedophile Nazi loser”.
If he does plead insanity, he risks his manifesto counting against him.
The risk for the world at large is that the document provides a source of inspiration for others.