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Doctors Declare Norway's Confessed Killer Sane; Trial To Begin Monday

Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian man who confessed to killing 77 people last July, was not criminally insane when he bombed a government building and gunned unarmed people down at a youth conference, according to two psychiatrists appointed by a court in Norway.

The new development comes days before Behring Breivik's trial is set to begin, on April 16.

According to The Norway Post:

"A press release by the Oslo City Court (Tingretten) on Tuesday states that the two new court-appointed psychiatrists had concluded that Behring Breivik was not psychotic when he bombed Norway's government office building on July 22, followed by the massacre at the Utøya Labour Party youth camp the same day."

Breivik's defense attorney, Geir Lippestad, is quoted in The Telegraph as saying, "This will be extremely difficult, an enormous challenge to listen to his explanations.... He will not only defend (his actions) but will also lament, I think, not going further."

The psychiatrists' findings issued Tuesday clash with the earlier opinions of two other psychiatrists, who found that Breivik was insane when he undertook his twin attacks.

In the end, Norway's City Court will determine whether to declare Breivik insane. He could face Norway's maximum penalty of 21 years in prison, with the possibility of unlimited extensions added later, if he is deemed a threat after serving a prison term.

Last week, a psychiatrist who read Breivik's 38-page letter to the media about his actions "likened Breivik's text to the 'ideologocial documents' written by Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s," according to the Oslo Times.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.