Oslo, Norway — Far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik pleaded not guilty to criminal charges for his 2011 massacre of 77 people in Norway, making a defiant salute as his long-awaited trial began Monday.
“I acknowledge the acts, but not criminal guilt,” Breivik, who is accused of “acts of terror,” told the court.
The 33-year-old shooter went on to say he was acting in self-defense and claimed the attacks were necessary to stop Muslims from taking over Norway.
On July 22, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik, killed eight people when he triggered a bomb in a van parked at the foot of government buildings in Oslo.
He then traveled to a Labour Party’s political youth camp on Utoya island, where – disguised as a police officer – he spent more than an hour slaughtering innocent students and youth leaders.
The shooting spree left 69 people dead, most of them teenagers trapped on the small heart-shaped island surrounded by icy waters, and is the deadliest massacre ever committed by a sole gunman.
CNN writes that the key issue to be resolved during the 10-week trial is the state of Breivik’s mental health, which will decide whether he is sent to prison or into psychiatric care.
If he is deemed mentally competent, he could face a maximum prison sentence of 21 years. Under Norwegian law, he could also be sentenced under a special provision that allows for incarceration as long as the inmate is considered a danger to society.
Breivik claimed earlier that he was sane and he didn’t regret his acts. He apparently has said that his only regret is that he couldn’t kill more people.
CNN’s Diana Magnay has more on Anders Behring Breivik’s trial in the video below: