'A huge roar': witness, expert describe Breivik's bomb
OSLO - Agence France-Presse
Anders Behring Breivik and his defence team pay attention as police officer Thor Langli is in the witness stand giving evidence in the trial against Breivik in Oslo. AFP PhotoA security guard and an explosives expert described in court Tuesday the massive blast that rocked Oslo when Anders Behring Breivik bombed a government building last July, killing eight people.
Tor Inge Kristoffersen, a guard in the Norwegian capital's government block, told the court that on July 22 he saw a white van park at the foot of the tower housing the offices of Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.
He said he was in the operations centre in the basement of the building and was using surveillance camera images to check whether the van was authorised to be there.
"When I was zooming in on the number plate, the car exploded," he testified, adding that "half of the images disappeared from our screens because the cameras had been destroyed in the explosion."
"There was a huge roar. We were so close that we did not hear a blast, but a roar, and we noticed the shockwave in the ceiling over us," he said.
Kristoffersen, a former soldier who served in the Middle East and in the Balkans, continued to work in the government district after the attacks, and said the area was like "a war zone." In the weeks after the bombing and Breivik's subsequent shooting massacre on the nearby Utoeya island -- where he killed another 69 people, mainly teens -- many raised questions about how the right-wing extremist could have parked his van so close to Norway's political nerve centre.
In his testimony, Kristoffersen stressed that long-overdue construction was under way to block off traffic in the street outside the government building, but that in the meantime "illegal parking" was frequent in the area.
"We chased cars away from there every day," he said.
Svein Olav Christensen, a government explosives expert, meanwhile told the court that a reenactment and simulations showed that Breivik's bomb had the energy equivalent of between 400 and 700 kilos (180-320 pounds) of TNT.
"The main charge is easy to make," he said, adding though that "the detonator is more difficult." The 33-year-old confessed killer used fertiliser, diesel and aluminium to make his 950-kilo bomb, which killed eight people working in the building and passers-by and injured dozens more.
Stoltenberg, who was working from his official residence that day, was not harmed in the attack.
Breivik has said his twin attacks were "cruel but necessary" to stop the Labour Party's "multicultural experiment" and halt the "Muslim invasion" of Norway and Europe.
Police operation chief Thor Langli was also called to testify Tuesday and described the confusion that followed the blast, with contradictory messages suggesting there were two suspects and possibly other bombs ready to go off.
"I thought there was a connection," he said about the moment when he was told about the Utoeya shooting massacre.
"I could not conceive that we could be facing several guys like him at the same time," Langli said, turning towards the accused.
As during the first six days of his trial, Breivik, who has confessed to the facts but refused to plead guilty, showed no emotion when faced with details of his bloodbath.
He has been charged with "acts of terror" and faces either 21 years in prison -- a sentence that could be extended indefinitely if he is still considered a threat to society -- or closed psychiatric care, possibly for life.
A first court-ordered psychiatric exam found him insane, while a second opinion came to the opposite conclusion.
However, the court announced Monday that a panel of experts had found flaws with the second evaluation and requested additional information from its authors.
Breivik himself wants to be found sane and accountable for his actions, so that his anti-Islam ideology, as presented in the 1,500-page manifesto he published online just before the attacks, will be taken seriously and not considered the ravings of a lunatic.