The man accused of killing 76 people in a bombing and shooting attack in Norway has been remanded in custody to allow police time to probe a claim that he worked with collaborators.
Anders Behring Breivik told a court hearing in Oslo on Monday that he had “two further cells” in his organisation, in the wake of Friday’s attacks in Oslo and the island of Utoya.
A top Oslo court official declined to elaborate on Breivik’s claim after the hearing. Instead, court chief Geir Engebretsen repeated the ruling of judge Kim Heger who is trying Breivik’s case.
Earlier on Monday, Heger told a news conference: “The accused has made statements today that require further investigation, including that ‘there are two more cells in our organisation’.” Breivik has previously said he acted alone in the attacks.
Breivik also calmly said in court on Monday that that he expects to spend the rest of his life in prison, officials said.
The judge ordered eight weeks detention for 32-year-old Breivik, who has admitted to the attacks. Breivik told the court that he acted to save Europe from Islam.
Heger said that Breivik would be locked up alone with no incoming letters, media nor visitors except for his lawyer. A trial could be a year away.
Breivik had requested his hearing be open to the public in order to “explain fully what he’s done, and more importantly, why he did it”, Al Jazeera’s Harry Smith reported from Oslo.
But after requests from prosecutors and police to close the arraignment, the judge barred the media and public from attending.
Breivik was arrested under the country’s terrorism laws but will not learn the actual charges against him until the investigation is concluded, closer to his trial date.
On Monday, the Nowegian police revised down the death toll from Friday’s bomb and shooting attack to 76 people from a previous estimate of 93, citing difficulties in gathering information at Utoeya island, where the shooting spree occured.
Al Jazeera’s Nick Spicer interviews Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg
At least eight people were killed in a bomb blast outside government buildings in central Oslo on Friday, and a further 68 were killed during the shooting on the island of Utoya, 40km away, where a Labour party youth camp was being held. The attacks wounded at least 100 other people.
Jens Breivik, the estranged father of the suspect, said in a TV interview on Monday that his son should have committed suicide instead of killing 76 people.
“I think that ultimately he should have taken his own life rather than kill so many people,” Jens Breivik said during the interview in Cournanel in the south of France where the retired diplomat lives.
Norwegians and others in neighbouring countries observed a minute of silence at 12:00pm local time on Monday to mourn the victims.
The Norwegian royal family said that the stepbrother of the crown princess was one of those killed on Utoya. Trond Berntsen was a 51-year-old retired policeman who was serving as a volunteer guard on the island, the newspaper Verdens Gang reported.
Police continued to hunt for possible accomplices and defended the hour it took before they responded to Utoya Island. In France, police raided a home belonging to Breivik’s father, who said he had not had contact with his son since 1995.
The murderous “crusade” was designed to end a centuries-long Muslim colonisation of Europe, Breivik said in a 1,500-page manifesto released on the Internet. Police have declined to comment on Breivik’s motives, but Geir Lippestad, his lawyer, has said Breivik told him he wanted to send a “warning” to the Labour party.
‘Cruel’ but ‘necessary’
Friday’s shooting spree lasted for about 90 minutes before Breivik surrendered to police, who immediately arrested him. Breivik did not resist his arrest, though he had ammunition remaining, police said.
Grieving members of the public lit candles after a memorial service inside the Oslo Cathedral [Reuters]
During weekend interrogation, Breivik told police that his attacks were “cruel” but “necessary”.
While he “admitted responsibility”, police said, Lippestad said he was not accepting “criminal responsibility”, and that his client felt he had done “nothing reprehensible”.
The attacks have caused outrage in Norway, and some have called for the reinstatement of the death penalty, which was eliminated decades ago. The maximum prison sentence facing Breivik is 21 years’ imprisonment, though legal experts said the sentence could be extended indefinitely for five years at a time.
Police have not ruled out the involvement of a second gunman, and on Sunday they detained several people in a swoop on two Oslo properties thought to be connected to the attacks. The suspects were released shortly afterwards, and no explosives were found.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Norway’s King Harald V and Queen Sonja led the nation in mourning at Oslo Cathedral.
The attacks on Friday afternoon were western Europe’s deadliest since the 2004 Madrid bombings, which were carried out by al-Qaeda, and the worst in Norway since World War II.
Investigators have been poring over the manifesto in which the suspect said he had been preparing the “martyrdom operation” since at least late 2009.
Part diary, part bomb-making manual and part Islamophobic rant, the “compendium” details how he set up fake mining and farming businesses to prepare the attacks.
Anti-fascist monitors have said Breivik was a member of a Swedish neo-Nazi Internet forum Nordisk.