OSLO, Norway – Former friends of confessed Norwegian mass killer Anders BehringBreivik said that some years before the massacre he came across asdepressed, expressed feminine tendencies and led some to believe hemight be gay. Four of the right-wing fanatic's old male friends told the OsloDistrict Court on Tuesday that five years before he killed 77people in 2011, he moved back in with his mother and cut down onhis social contacts. The friends testified at Breivik's trial asthe defendant watched in an adjoining room. One former friend who is now a lawyer in the military said Breivikhad shown "feminine behavior and used makeup," and did not havemany long-lasting relationships with women. "I believed he was in a deep depression or that he was a homosexualwho did not want to come out in public about it," he said. |
Breivik has confessed to the July 22 massacre, in which he gunneddown 69 people at a youth retreat on Utoya island after setting offa bomb in central Oslo that killed eight others. But he deniescriminal guilt, saying the victims had betrayed their country byembracing immigration. His mental state is the key issue to be resolved during the trial.If found guilty and criminally sane, he would face 21 years inprison, though he could be held longer if deemed dangerous tosociety. If declared insane, he would be committed to compulsorypsychiatric care.
Breivik's ex-friends, all the same age as the 33-year-olddefendant, told the court that Breivik had been a sharp and socialperson before. They had all known him from school and some of themhad occasional contacts with him until a few months before hecarried out the attacks. They recalled that Breivik was very conscious about his appearance. After being teased for having an "Arab" nose, he had surgery on it— at the age of 20 — conceding that it was too big, oneof the witnesses said. In 1,500-page rambling manifesto, whichBreivik posted on the Internet before the massacre, he said thesurgery was carried out after he broke his nose in a fight with aMuslim immigrant.
His former friends said they could not recall that fight norseveral other confrontations Breivik claimed he had had withMuslims. One friend from primary school recalled Breivik as "quitea tolerant" person. The court asked the media not to name those who testified Tuesday. When Breivik withdrew to his mother's house, his friends tried tocontact him several times but with no success until 2008, when heunexpectedly got in touch with some of them again.
He met themoccasionally and just three months before the rampage Breivik wentto a barbecue at a friend's house, where he appeared sociable andgave no hint of his plans. A 27-year-old woman and former girlfriend of Breivik's "bestfriend" said he changed dramatically in the year before he moved tohis mother's. She hinted that the reason was his failed businessand unsuccessful female relationships. The woman described him as "ill," and dependent on Internet games."He needed help, as I understood it," she said.
At the end of Tuesday's hearing, Breivik responded to the claims,insisting that he had "never, ever been depressed" and rejectingthe notion that he had behaved in a feminine manner, saying it wascommon for men to cover pimples with makeup. He did not comment onsuggestions he may be gay. Breivik described himself as a successful businessman before hemoved in with his mother, and said that playing Internet games washis cover for writing his manifesto and planning the attacks. Hesaid he did not want to involve his friends, who did not supporthim ideologically.
Last week, Breivik told the court that he would not appeal theverdict if the court deems him sane. Two psychological examinationscarried out before the 10-week trial started reached oppositeconclusions on whether he is psychotic. The trial is scheduled tolast until the end of June.
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