OSLO, Norway >> The self-described perpetrator of Norway’s deadly bombing and shooting rampage was ordered held in isolation at a hearing Monday after calmly telling the court that two other groups of allies stand ready to join his murderous campaign.
Anders Behring Breivik has admitted bombing Norway’s capital and opening fire on a political youth group retreat on an island near the capital. He told authorities that he expects to spend the rest of his life in prison. Saying he wanted to save Europe from Muslim immigration, he entered a plea of not guilty that will guarantee him future court hearings and opportunities to address the public, even indirectly.
Police believe Breivik acted alone, despite his grand claims in a 1,500-page manifesto that he belonged to a modern group of crusaders. But they have not completely ruled out that he had accomplices.
Judge Kim Heger ordered Breivik held for eight weeks, including four in isolation, noting his reference to "two more cells within our organization."
Norway has been stunned by the attacks and riveted by Breivik’s strange writings. Hundreds of reporters and locals thronged the courthouse ahead of his first court appearance Monday, hoping to get their first glimpse of the man blamed for the deaths of 76 people — lowered Monday from 93. At one point, a car drove through the crowd and onlookers beat at it with their fists, although it turned out Breivik may not have been inside.
But tens of thousands of Norwegians also defied his rehtoric of hate, gathering in central Oslo to mourn the victims and lay thousands of flowers around the city.
In an interview published Monday, Breivik’s estranged father said he wished that his son had killed himself instead of unleashing his rage on innocent people.
The outpouring of emotion stood in stark contrast to what prosecutor Christian Hatlo described as Breivik’s calm demeanor at the hearing, which was closed to the public over security concerns. Hatlo said he "seemed unaffected by what has happened."
In a surprise announcement, police revealed that they had dramatically overcounted the number of people slain in the island shooting spree and were lowering the confirmed death toll from 86 to 68. Police spokesman Oystein Maeland said that the higher, erroneous figure emerged as police and rescuers were focusing on helping survivors and securing the area. He said some officers may have counted bodies twice, but he did not immediately explain more about how the errors occurred.
Police also raised the toll from a bombing outside the government’s headquarters in Oslo before the shooting spree, from seven to eight.
The dramatic reduction in the death toll adds to a list of police missteps: They took 90 minutes to arrive at the island from the first shot, and people there who called emergency services have reported being told by operators to stay off the lines unless they were calling about the Oslo bombings. On Monday, police revealed that its entire Oslo helicopter crew had been sent on vacation and thus couldn’t be mobilized to the scene.
In contrast to that confusion, police official Odd Reidar Humlegaard has said Breivik appears to have had full control of the island during his rampage.
"He’s been merciless," Humlegaard said.
Police have said he used two weapons during the rampage — both of which were bought legally, according to the manifesto. A doctor treating victims also told The Associated Press that the gunman used illegal "dum-dum"-style bullets designed to disintegrate inside the body and cause maximum internal damage.
Breivik faces 21 years in prison for the terrorism charges, but he has told authorities he never expects to be released. While 21 years is the stiffest sentence a Norwegian judge can hand down, a special sentence can be given to prisoners deemed a danger to society who are locked up for 20-year sentences that can be renewed indefinitely.
Oslo began to get back to normal Monday morning, with shops opening and the tram running. But later in the day, 150,000 people filled the city’s streets to mourn the victims with a rose vigil that ended in the heart of the city. Afterward, entire streets were awash in flowers; roses also decorated the fences that blocked off Friday’s bomb site.
Crown Prince Haakon spoke "of a street being filled with love," bringing his own wife Crown Princess Mette-Marit to tears. "We have the power to meet hate with togetherness. We have chosen what we stand for," he said.
Breivik has pilloried Norway’s openness and embrace of immigrants and has said his attacks were intended to start a revolution to inspire Norwegians to retake their country from Muslims. He blames liberals for championing multiculturalism over Norway’s "indigenous" culture.
"The operation was not to kill as many people as possible but to give a strong signal that could not be misunderstood that as long as the Labor Party keeps driving its ideological lie and keeps deconstructing Norwegian culture and mass importing Muslims then they must assume responsibility for this treason," according to the English translation of Judge Heger’s ruling that was read out after the hearing.
Breivik has, in fact, claimed that the killings were meant to wake people up to these problems and to serve as "marketing" for his manifesto.
Heger, however, denied Breivik the public stage he wanted to air his extremist views by closing the court and ordering him cut off from the world for eight weeks, without access to visitors, mail or media. For four of those, he will be in complete isolation. Typically, the accused is brought to court every four weeks while prosecutors prepare their case, so a judge can approve his continued detention. Longer periods are not unusual in serious cases.
In the court appearance, Breivik alluded to two other "cells" of his network — which he imagines as a new Knights Templar, the medieval cabal of crusaders who protected Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land.
He describes being invited to join the group, which he says is dedicated to "anti-jihad," and talks about three meetings they have in London and the Baltics. Afterward they vow not to contact one another and are told to plan their "resistance" on their own. But they are also advised to space out their attacks: "We should avoid any immediate follow up attacks as it would negate the shock effect of the subsequent attacks. A large successful attack every 5-12 years was optimal," he wrote.
At one point, his manifesto briefly referred to an intention to contact two other cells, but no details were given. A cell usually refers to more than one person.
European security officials said they were aware of increased Internet chatter from individuals claiming they belonged to the Knights Templar group and were investigating claims that Breivik, and other far-right individuals, attended a London meeting of the group in 2002.
In his 1,500-page manifesto, Breivik describes how he bought armor, guns, tons of fertilizer and other bomb components, stashed caches of weapons and wiping his computer hard drive — all while evading police suspicion and being nice to his neighbors.
One of those purchases appears to have been flagged by Norway’s police security service. The PST says it was alerted in March it to a suspicious purchase of an undisclosed product from a Polish chemical firm by Breivik.
Janne Kristiansen, the chief of PST, told national broadcaster NRK that the 120 kroner ($22) purchase set off an alert as part of a broader look at the company. But the transaction was legal and PST would have needed additional information to investigate further.
In his manifesto, Breivik describes a purchase of sodium nitrite from Poland, saying he "was concerned about customs seizing the package." It was not clear if that was the purchase flagged.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Swedish tabloid Expressen, the suspect’s father said he was ashamed and disgusted by his son’s acts and wished he had committed suicide.
"I don’t feel like his father," said former diplomat Jens David Breivik from his secluded home in southern France. "How could he just stand there and kill so many innocent people and just seem to think that what he did was OK? He should have taken his own life too. That’s what he should have done."
The elder Breivik said he first learned the news of his son’s attacks from media websites. "I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was totally paralyzing and I couldn’t really understand it."
"I will have to live with this shame for the rest of my life. People will always link me with him," he said.
Jens David Breivik said he had severed all contact with his son in 1995 when the latter was 16.
Police were surrounding the suspect’s father’s house in the south of France on Monday. They initially said they were searching the premises, but later said they were there to ensure public order. Journalists were outside the property.
DiLorenzo reported from Stockholm. Associated Press writers Angela Charlton in Paris, Louise Nordstrom and Karl Ritter in Stockholm and Ian MacDougall, Shawn Pogatchnik and Derl McCrudden in Oslo, Norway, contributed to this report.