There is a self confessed mass murderer not far from me having his day in court.

A TV camera is trained on this comfortable man with a pencil beard as he smiles to those around him and calmly waits for the return of his handcuffs and the ride back to prison.

Survivors of Utøya Island say Anders Behring Breivik also smiled and whooped with joy last July as he spent an hour and a half hunting and slaughtering young political activists on a summer camp.

Whether the 33 year old killed 77 people is not in question. He admits it. This case must decide Breivik’s sanity and somehow explain to Norway what happened.

The details of July 22, 2011 are finally coming out in this Central Oslo court room.

Parents are finding out how their children died and survivors are revealing close calls with a gunman coldly dressed as a police officer.

What is the latest? After killing and maiming on the island, Anders Behring Breivik asked for a band-aid for a cut finger and, according to the police he surrendered to, he posed like a bodybuilder for shirtless arrest photos.

Breivik says he won’t crack in the courtroom. He says he trained himself for years to not feel for his victims.

We now know he’s been toying with politically-motivated violence, or shall we just call it terrorism, since he was 19 years old.

Media coverage of Breivik’s trial is intense.

Media organisations have large reporting units devoted to the July 22 case and there are transmission trucks, security fencing and sound stages permanently stationed out the front of the courthouse.

Seats to watch the trial had been allocated weeks ago.

The courthouse is also magnet for the grieving, curious and angry public. Inexplicably, a man set himself on fire and tumbled with security guards on one recent day, while the brother of one of the victims threw a shoe at Breivik on another.

The fencing at the court’ entrance is decorated with flowers, photos and other tokens of devotion. Every day there is something new.

Here is one of the headlines of July 22 kept for posterity under glass cleanly cracked by the shock wave of the initial explosion.

The building which houses the VG newspaper is just over the way from the government building Breivik tried to destroy first.

The explosion did not cause buildings to collapse, but killed eight people, injured others and caused damage that will take many, many more months to repair.

While the bomb detonated in Oslo, Anders Behring Breivik was on the road. He says he heard on his car radio that he’d failed to bring down buildings and, according to him, kill enough people.

So he turned his attention to Utøya Island.

Understandably, you can’t go out to the island at the moment but you can have a moment at a small July 22 memorial on the roadside.

There’s a makeshift visitor’s book under the roadside memorial rock as well as lollies and a packet of biscuits.

There are messages from all over the world, but many are from other young Norwegians trying to make sense of it all.

Some lives were saved on the island and here, on the wharves, that day.

The people of the nearby trailer park heard Breivik’s gunfire and tried to save people escaping the slaughter on the island.

Breivik was still shooting, shouting “today you will die Marxists” and the water was turning red.

This terrible event, which has rocked Norway and stunned the world, is almost a year old. For me, July 22 has parallels with the 1996 Port Arthur massacre. Namely, the survival of the shooter, the quest for some sort of fame and, sadly, the high body count.

I was an ABC cadet journalist in Hobart back then in ’96. I was just starting out in my career, confronted by an extraordinarily shocking, wasteful and miserable happening.

Norwegians are trying to understand why one of their own would do this. Oslo is a “little town in the valley” one retired Navy man in Bergen told me “how could this happen here?”

July 22 appears to have backfired on Anders Behring Breivik anyway. As this monument reads a now famous tweet about the massacre, “If a man can show so much hatred, think of so much love we can show together.”

Far from knocking out Norway’s young labour movement, he appears to inspired them to carry on.

 

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  1. May 25, 2012

    Reblogged this on Pixie's Mumblings.

  2. May 29, 2012

    I’d totally forgotten about the Port Arthur massacre, although the perpetrators appear to be very different. Anders Behring Breivik “agenda” seems more akin to Unibomber’s motivation. You’ll understand that I’m not in any way condoning either, just making an observation.

    • May 29, 2012

      I completely agree Robert. I am not suggesting they are very similar (Bryant’s poor IQ for one), but I can see quite a few parallels. It is extraordinary that both men lived through what they did and are now going through the courts. I remember the impact on the Tasmanian community and the first terrible anniversary. Norway is about to go through that.

  3. Yobado #
    July 22, 2012

    I have to point this out, it is a detail but it is a big one. I have seen this mistake being made hundreds of times now and I just dont understand how its possible that so many people get this wrong, even norwegians get this wrong for some insane reason. Pay attention now; Øya is the norwegian word for Island, ok? So, Utøya is Ut Island in english. When you write Utøya Island you are calling it UtIsland Island, it makes no sense.

  4. Linda #
    September 12, 2012

    I could imagine how an event like this would warrant a strong security fence. Hopefully they got JSBFENCING.COM.AU to put it up. This just might prevent a crime like this from happening ever again.

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