OSLO, Norway -- The psychiatrists who have faced intense criticism for deeming Anders Behring Breivik – the self-confessed killer of 77 people in Norway last year – too mentally unfit to go to prison defended their stance Thursday, calling him delusional.
Torgeir Husby and Synne Soerheim, who concluded that Breivik suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, stuck to their findings when presenting their 239-page report on the right-wing extremist's mental health to the court. They insisted he is driven by delusions rather than political conviction, saying he resembled people who believe they are the new Napoleon.
"One doesn't go collecting expertise in historical facts if a new Napoleon is admitted (to a clinic), not even if he arrives in full uniform," Husby said.
Their report came under fire for lacking knowledge of right-wing terminology and for interpreting Breivik's political explanations for his rampage as symptoms of schizophrenia. The court then ordered a second evaluation by other psychiatrists, who came to the opposite conclusion, deeming him sufficiently mentally competent to go to prison.
Breivik's sanity is key to the case and is still an unresolved issue. If found guilty and sane, the 33-year-old Norwegian would face 21 years in prison, although he could be held even longer if deemed a danger to society. If declared insane, he would be committed to compulsory psychiatric care.
To back up their claims, Soerheim spent much of the day reading out their findings, including statements made by Breivik's mother, who claimed that as much as "half of what he's told police is a lie." According to his mother, he has fabricated information about both his travels and his education.
Breivik's mother isn't appearing at his trial because of health-related reasons, and has not been named due to Norwegian privacy rules.
Describing how Breivik had transformed from a caring son into an aggressive and secretive loner, she had asked for her statements to be read out behind closed doors. The court rejected the demand, saying the public interest was too great.
Breivik killed eight people by setting off a homemade bomb July 22 in Oslo's government district and then shot and killed 69 people, mostly teenagers, attending a youth camp on the island of Utoya.
He insists he belongs to a Europe-wide anti-Muslim network called the Knights Templar, and said those he killed were traitors to Norway for embracing immigration. Police have not found any evidence of a group such as he has described.
"After hearing him in court, and speaking with him for many hours, we are of the opinion that the core of his delusion is not about politics or political relations," said Soerheim. "He thinks he is going to save us all from perdition in a battle between good and evil. In this battle, he thinks he has overarching responsibility, a call, to decide who lives and who dies."
He said Breivik believes he has an important "position within a non-existent organization."