The Breivik Interrogations: Norway Massacre Suspect Reveals All But Motive
Anders Behring Breivik has admitted to killing 77 Norwegians during a bombing and shooting massacre in July. Investigators say he is almost overly eager to talk. Still, after 100 hours of questioning, they have seen no signs of remorse and have little information about what really motivated him to kill.
The witness pays careful attention to his water intake, the investigator says. During questioning, Anders Behring Breivik reaches for his water bottle at regular intervals. He unscrews it, takes a small sip, glances at the digital clock on the wall -- and resumes talking.
For the investigator, Norwegian police psychologist Asbj°rn Rachlew, Breivik is not just a man who murdered a large number of people. He is also -- and perhaps more importantly -- a star witness. On interrogation days, Breivik is questioned for up to 10 hours, with Rachlew watching from behind a panel of one-way glass. Even when the investigators are exhausted, Breivik merely says: "Let's keep going."
Anders Breivik killed 77 people. After detonating a bomb that devastated a section of downtown Oslo, he put on a police uniform and shot to death 69 children and adolescents on a small island in a fjord. Some of the victims' bodies were completely riddled with bullets.
Comforts for a Killer and Star Witness
Breivik has confessed to the crimes, but shown no regret. In fact, he says that he had planned to set off another bomb and kill even more people.
During the interrogations, he answers questions politely and explains things articulately. "One gets the impression," Rachlew says, "that he doesn't want to stop talking." Breivik is reportedly also well mannered.
Since his arrest on July 22, Breivik has been sitting at least once a week in one of two light-blue armchairs at a small, round table made of spruce wood. Nothing is left to chance in Room 6030 on the seventh floor of police headquarters in Oslo. The room temperature is kept at 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit), and a thermostat regulates the humidity. The armchairs do not face each other directly so that Breivik isn't forced to look his interrogator in the eyes.
"We don't want any confrontation," Rachlew says. The room is supposed to feel cozy, he adds, which explains the checkered curtains in front of the one-way glass and the wool carpet on the wall.
"We want him to talk to us and to remember things," Rachlew says, including each individual face he looked at before pulling the trigger.
All What, No Why
Breivik has already sat in this interrogation room 14 times, for more than 100 hours of questioning. The transcript of what he has said about the car bomb and his massacre on Ut°ya Island is 430 pages long. The content of the interrogations is secret and will serve as the basis for the trial set to begin next year.
The investigators need to form an image for themselves of Breivik and his crimes. The family members want to know how he killed their children, where they hid and whether they had to suffer for long.
"We go through each shooting with him, including all the details," Rachlew says.
But the question that remains unanswered and incomprehensible for the investigators -- as well as for the families and the rest of the world -- is why.
What makes a person act is such a cold-blooded way? How can someone go from being a somewhat disturbed proponent of an insidious conspiracy theory to a terrorist and mass murderer?
Eager to Recount the Horrors
Breivik is cooperating with the police "to our fullest satisfaction," says Christian Hatlo, almost reluctantly. He and Rachlew, the psychologist, are the only officials authorized to discuss the interrogations with others. Like Breivik and Rachlew, Hatlo is tall and blonde, and he recently became a father.
Hatlo is a lawyer involved with formulating the indictment and, like the psychologist, he is also present at almost every encounter with Breivik. Normal murderers would not be talking, Hatlo says, whereas Breivik talks for hours, adding: "It's exhausting." Breivik will only interrupt the interrogation every once in a while to smoke a cigarette or eat a hamburger, which he has his attorney order from his favorite restaurant.
According to Hatlo, Breivik explains patiently and in detail how he saw a particular girl or boy on Ut°ya, how he lured them out of their hiding places and how he took aim at them. He says he deliberately selected the adolescents while sparing the younger children because, as he has told investigators, they had not yet been indoctrinated by Norway's Labor Party, which he refers to as the "cultural Marxists."
Breivik wants to sit for these interrogations, and he wants everything he says to be written down and recorded.
"It's no surprise that he was so careful about not getting shot during his arrest," Rachlew says, shaking his head. Breivik is now the "rare animal in the zoo," he adds, whereas similar killers usually end up killing themselves.
Breivik told Rachlew and Hatlo that it was difficult for him to shoot the first four victims. But then the music he was listening to on headphones, "Lux Aeterna" from "Lord of the Rings," gave him a boost and made him feel euphoric. And then there were the drugs, the amphetamines. He said that he had switched "to autopilot," as he called it. But most of all, he was driven by his conviction.
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