Norway Suspect Faces Terrorism Charges At Hearing

Originally published on August 31, 2011 1:04 pm
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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:

From Oslo, Teri Schultz joins us now.

TERI SCHULTZ: Hi, Mary Louise.

LOUISE KELLY: So we understand in court this morning, Breivik pleaded not guilty. What happened?

SCHULTZ: So he says, yes, I did it. It's not a criminal act.

LOUISE KELLY: Hm. Now, he is being charged with murder. Will he be held until this comes back up before a judge again?

SCHULTZ: Absolutely. He's being charged with murder under the terrorism law in Norway. And these two acts were immediately considered acts of terrorism. And that is - that's the strongest sentencing he can possibly get under Norwegian law. I will note - and this may shock some of our American listeners - that the strongest sentence, the maximum sentence you can get in Norway is 21 years in prison.

LOUISE KELLY: Although that could be extended if he's seen as posing a threat - an ongoing threat.

SCHULTZ: What the judge said today is that Breivik has no chance of getting out right now. He'll be kept in custody for at least eight weeks, which is what the prosecution asked for to start preparing their case. And interestingly, he will be kept in complete confinement, solitary confinement, for the first month. And all of this eight weeks will be without receiving any visitors, any letters, any news at all.

LOUISE KELLY: OK. So he could serve as much as 21 years if he's eventually found guilty. Tell us a tiny bit more about today's hearing, Teri. This was a closed hearing. The thinking is so to prevent this from becoming a public platform for Breivik?

SCHULTZ: And it turns out, we learned from the judge later, that one of the reasons they closed the hearing is because Breivik was bragging about having more contacts in what he called his terror cell. And they were also worried that if this is true, he could use the hearing to tip off these other collaborators, and possibly set in effect more terror attacks. No one knows if it's true, but they're certainly not taking any chances.

LOUISE KELLY: OK. Lots more details still to watch there. Thanks very much, Teri.

SCHULTZ: You're welcome.

LOUISE KELLY: That's reporter Teri Schultz, reporting from Oslo, Norway. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.