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Norwegian Police admit their response to Breivik was too slow

Oslo, 17.3.2012 16:43, (ROMEA)

Yesterday the Norwegian Police admitted for the first time that they could have intervened more rapidly against right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik when he shot and killed the participants of a Social Democratic Youth summer camp on the island of Utöya last year. The island massacre took 69 lives. Police have apologized for their failure and asked the victims' loved ones for forgiveness, Deutsche-Presse Agentur reports.

"On behalf of the police I apologize for the fact that we did not succeed in taking the assailant earlier," Oystein Maeland, head of the Norwegian Police, said yesterday when he presented an official report on the intervention. "Every minute longer was too long. The awareness that we could have saved lives if the assailant had been detained earlier is a heavy burden."

Sissel Hammer, head of the regional police force, has admitted that the response unit could "theoretically" have arrived on the island near Oslo about 16 minutes earlier than it did. Breivik shot at a total of 100 people altogether on the island. Of the 69 victims murdered there, 56 were shot in the head. One victim drowned and one person died after falling from a cliff in a vain attempt to escape.

Yesterday police said their response had been slowed by insufficient communications systems and other unfortunate circumstances, including the breakdown of an overburdened boat the elite anti-terrorist SWAT unit used to get to the island.Breivik was not apprehended until one hour and 20 minutes after he made it to the island from Oslo, where he had set off a bomb near government buildings in the center of the metropolis, killing eight people. "Could the police have been faster? The answer is 'yes'," Maeland admitted.

The Norwegian Prosecutor recently charged the 33-year-old Breivik with terrorism. He has confessed to murdering a total of 77 people but rejects criminal liability for his actions.

The trial of Breivik will start on 16 April and is expected to last about 10 weeks. The ultra-right extremist faces up to 21 years in prison if convicted. However, there is a chance that the court will rule the terrorist insane. Last fall two psychiatrists came to the conclusion that Breivik suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. The court requested one more expert affidavit concerning Breivik's mental health, which should be completed by 10 April.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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