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Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A Norwegian Horror Story

I still remember that morning last July when I was on holiday and woke to the news of a terrible gun incident in Norway. It was one of those awful days when the news got gradually worse and worse and the death toll rose to a staggering 77.

It is hard to imaging anything worse than what the victims and families went through. But having to hear his disgusting justification must come close. Using his trial as a platform for his extremist views he told the court –

"The attacks on July 22 were a preventive strike. I acted in self-defence on behalf of my people, my city, my country; I therefore demand to be found innocent of the present charges."

Of course we all know that those young victims were no danger to him or anybody else and that this was the act of a chilling supremacist.

I have to say I am surprised that he has been given such a public opportunity to share these views. He admits that he killed all of the victims. He admits that he did it intentionally. He has been found not to be insane. In this country he would have no legal defence to murder on the basis of his rants. Seeking to justify actions by reference to a clearly warped standard comes nowhere near adding to up to a defence. That is certainly the case here and I cannot imagine Norway is any different. 

Now I am a lifelong defender of the right of free speech. But this isn’t an issue of free speech. That is not what the court is for. The purpose of a court hearing is to decide whether or not he is guilty of one of the worst crimes of murder that we have seen and to sentence him accordingly.

We all know what the outcome will be. He will be convicted and will receive a life sentence. There is no other issue to be decided by a court.

So it would have been better all round if he had not had the platform to have the whole world’s press reporting his views. And his victim’s families would have had the opportunity to begin to rebuild.

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