Oslo, April 18 (IANS/RIA Novosti) A judge in the trial of Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik was dismissed for his online comment that the anti-Muslim extremist who murdered 77 innocent people should face the death penalty.
The trial against the 33-year-old Breivik began Monday with two professional judges, as well as three lay judges — local politicians who are appointed for four-year terms and participate on an equal basis in deciding guilt and sentencing.
The key issue to be resolved during the trial is Breivik’s mental state.
Following the killings, lay judge Thomas Indreboe posted a comment on his Facebook page, saying “the death penalty is the only just outcome of this case”.
Lawyers on both sides had requested that Indreboe be taken off the trial. He was Tuesday replaced by back-up lay judge Elisabeth Wisloeff.
The death penalty is not practised in Norway and most other European countries.
On Tuesday, Breivik addressed the court, reading a manifesto prepared while he was in custody. His testimony was not broadcast live, but media representatives were present in the courtroom.
In his statement, Breivik said he acted out of “goodness not evil” to prevent a civil war and “would have done it again”.
“I have carried out the most spectacular and sophisticated attack on Europe since World War II. I cannot plead guilty. I acted in defence of my culture and of my people and so I ask to be acquitted,” the BBC quoted Breivik as saying.
He admitted carrying out the massacre, but denied criminal responsibility for it.
He also said life in prison or dying for his people would be “the biggest honour”, before the judge interrupted his speech.
Many survivors and families of the victims are worried that Breivik may use the trial to promote his extremist ideology.
In a statement Breivik published online before the attacks, he wrote that “patriotic resistance fighters” should use trials “as a platform to further our cause”.