While police think that Oslo gunman Anders Behring Breivik was a lone wolf, the self-confessed perpetrator of last week’s gun and bomb attack in Norway claimed on Monday that he had an active network of accomplices - with two working cells.
Breivik was remanded in police custody for eight weeks - four of which will be spent in solitary confinement.
Meanwhile, Norwegian police on Monday lowered the overall death toll from twin bombing and shooting attacks to 76.
Senior Oslo police official Oeystein Maeland said the number of people killed by a downtown bomb went up one to eight, and that the count from a mass shooting on a nearby island fell from 86 to 68. The overall toll was previously given by police as 93.
All the bodies have been removed from the island shooting allowing for a more exact death toll, Maeland said. “This figure could still go up,” he added, and “the search (for bodies) is ongoing.”
A court in Oslo on Monday remanded Anders Behring Breivik in custody for eight weeks.
The 32-year-old suspect was refused permission to appear in a uniform at his first appearance in an Oslo court.
The judge also ruled in the closed door hearing that Behring Breivik be held in solitary confinement for the first four weeks of an eight-week period in custody, with a ban on all communication with the outside world in a bid to aid a police investigation.
The suspect told the court hearing he had “two further cells” in his organisation, according to the court registrar.
Judge Kim Heger told reporters that the suspect told the court he wanted to “send a powerful signal” around Europe that Marxist and Muslim colonisation had to end.
“Despite that the accused has acknowledged the actual circumstances, he has not pleaded guilty,” the judge said.
Behring Breivik’s brief appearance came around an hour after the country had marked a minute’s silence for the victims of last Friday’s bomb and shooting spree which left 76 people dead.
Thousands of people had earlier bowed their heads in silence outside Oslo’s main university at a ceremony led by Prime Minister.
Behring Breivik arrived at the court and left in an armoured Mercedes via a back entrance to the courthouse in downtown Oslo.
People waiting to catch a glimpse of him cried “traitor” and “bloody killer,” Norway’s NTB agency said.
Before the attack, Behring Breivik wrote a 1,500-page manifesto, datelined London. He boasted he was one of up to 80 “solo martyr cells” recruited across Western Europe to topple governments tolerant of Islam.
Behring Breivik currently has only the status of “official suspect,” meaning he will not learn actual charges until the investigation is concluded with police still hunting for possible accomplices.
But the attacks have triggered calls for Norway to reinstate the death penalty. The maximum prison sentence in Norway is 21 years, meaning the accused could be awarded just 82 days per killing.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2011.