‘Cold and Inhuman’: Anders Behring Breivik Makes First Public Court Appearance

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Reuters/Scanpix/Oslo police handout

A passport picture of Anders Behring Breivik taken in 2009 and released by police in Oslo on October 28, 2011

Anders Behring Breivik, the man who confessed to masterminding twin attacks that killed 77 people in Norway this summer, has described himself as a “resistance” fighter during his first public court appearance in Oslo.

“I am a military commander in the Norwegian resistance movement and Knights Templar Norway,” he said before a courtroom packed with 500 people. “I object to [the court] because you received your mandate from organizations that support hate ideology [and] because it supports multiculturalism. I acknowledge the acts but I do not plead guilty.”

(MORE: What Breivik Can Expect Inside Norway’s Prison System)

Judge Torkjel Nesheim interrupted Breivik during that monologue because he “did not want to give [Breivik] the opportunity to use this hearing as a platform for him to express his views.” For the same reason he refused to allow Breivik, who brought a pre-written speech with him, to address the relatives of his victims at the end of the hearing. Nesheim also ordered police to hold Breivik in custody for 12 more weeks, banned him from accessing media for four weeks, and said that authorities will have tight control over all visits and correspondence for eight weeks.

Around 30 survivors and victims’ relatives attended the hearing. Some came hoping to look Breivik in the eye, others to confirm that he is being held under lock and key. All attended with the goal of moving toward closure. “I thought he seemed cold and inhuman,” one Utoya survivor told Norwegian broadcaster NRK. “It was uncomfortable, but for me I moved on a little bit after seeing and hearing the suspect.”

Dressed in a dark suit and blue tie, Breivik remained calm and professional throughout the hearing and looked journalists and survivors in the eye as he entered and exited the building. Despite Breivik’s bizarre notion of being part of a larger “resistance” movement, the judge determined that he is not insane, and said that there is no evidence he acted with accomplices. It may comfort some that the July 22 attacks seem to be the work of one extremist rather than a group of radicals. But that doesn’t automatically ease the grief and confusion that an entire nation still feels. “I wish he looked like a monster, but he doesn’t,” a relative of one victim said. “It would be so much easier if he did.”

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William Lee Adams is a staff writer at the London bureau of TIME. Find him on Twitter at @willyleeadams or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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