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Norwegian Killer Pleads Not Guilty in Court

Anders Behring Breivik clenches his fist as he arrives in the courtroom for the first day of his trial in Oslo, Norway, April 16, 2012.
Anders Behring Breivik clenches his fist as he arrives in the courtroom for the first day of his trial in Oslo, Norway, April 16, 2012.

A militant anti-Islamic extremist who is charged with killing 77 people in Norway last year has pleaded "not guilty" in an Oslo court. the accused says he acted in self defense.

Anders Behring Breivik arrived at the Oslo courthouse in handcuffs. When they were taken off inside the courtroom he jutted his fist into the air in a symbolic salute.

Public Prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh proceeded to read out the names and cause of death for each person killed last July.

She reads the name of Kristian Rasmussen, who was born in 1980, and received brain injuries, abdominal injuries, inner bleeding and a broken neck.

Breivik set off a bomb in central Oslo on July 22, then made his way to a nearby island, where the youth wing of the Labour Party was holding a summer camp. He shot dead 69 people before he was arrested by police.

In court, Breivik said he acknowledged the acts committed, but said he did not accept criminal responsibility.

He also said he did not recognize the Norwegian courts. He said the courts received their mandate from political parties that support multi-culturalism.

There is some worry in Norway that Breivik's trial will become a platform for his extreme views. His defense team has called almost 30 witnesses ranging from Islamists to right-wing bloggers.

Breivik claims he belonged to a secret movement called the "Knights Templar," named after a medieval military and religious order. Investigators said they have found no evidence of that. Instead, they say he acted as a so-called "lone wolf."

Lecturer Andrea Mammone is an expert on European right-wing extremists at Britain's Kingston University. He said that although Breivik may have been acting alone during his killing spree, he was linked to a range of right-wing extremists.

"He is part of a wider network of far-right militants across Europe. He could see that certainly this group really is not existing, but there is something wider that probably we are unable to trace."

Those extremists, Mammone said, are on the rise in many European nations and corresponding over the Internet.

He said there is a shift in Europe toward greater international integration. That was the case last month in Denmark, he said, when a few hundred right-wing militants from across Europe joined for a rally.

"There is a shift in the sense that there is an attempt to organize forces at a supranational level. So these groups tried to organize at European level. But it my view, in some cases like for these little groups, it is a way to get noticed, it is a way to get out of the political and cultural ghetto," said Mammone.

Breivik has undergone two examinations to determine his mental stability. The first found him insane, while the second said he is mentally competent. If he is found to be sane he faces 21 years in prison.