OSLO - The Norwegian anti-Islamic gunman who massacred 77 people said in court on Tuesday his shooting spree and bomb attack were "sophisticated and spectacular" and that he would do the same thing again.
Anders Behring Breivik, 33, has pleaded not guilty and said he was defending his country by setting off a car bomb that killed eight people at government headquarters in Oslo last July, then shooting another 69 people at a youth summer camp organized by the ruling Labour Party.
Taking the stand at his trial
for the first time, the high school drop-out read from a statement for an hour, ignoring pleas from the judge to stop and sparking criticism from victims he was being allowed to use the trial for violent propaganda.
The killer, a former business fraudster who lived with his mother, invoked Native American warriors such as Sitting Bull, raged against Islam and multicultural "hell" and warned of "rivers of blood" in Europe.
"I have carried out the most sophisticated and spectacular political attack committed in Europe since the Second World War," Breivik told the court in a monotonous, unemotional voice, seated with one hand on his papers and another on his leg.
"The July 22 attacks were preemptive attacks to defend the Norwegian people and the Norwegian ethnicity."
"Yes, I would have done it again, because offenses against my people ... are many times as bad," he said.
His attacks were "based on goodness, not evil," he added.
While he will likely be kept behind bars for the rest of his life, Breivik's main objective is to prove he is sane, a court judgement that he sees as vindicating his anti-Muslim and anti-immigration cause.
He has said being labelled insane would be a "fate worse than death".
If found guilty and sane, Breivik faces a maximum 21-year sentence but could be held indefinitely if he is considered a continuing danger. If declared insane, he would go to a psychiatric institution indefinitely with periodic reviews.
Before Tuesday's statement, Breivik had promised to be sensitive to victims and tone down his rhetoric. But the court audience, including survivors, shifted in their chairs, rolled their eyes, and murmured with impatience during his speech.
He ignored the repeated pleas of an angry judge to stop talking. When Breivik started talking about Japan and South Korea as role models, the judge asked him "to limit himself to Norwegian issues."
Breivik's testimony, which will go on for five days, will not be broadcast on television due to concerns that the gunman could use the trial as propaganda for his violent cause.
"He is getting what he wants and I don't want to be a part of that," survivor Hildegunn Fallang said.
The day began in controversy when the court dismissed a lay judge because he posted a comment on a Facebook page days after the massacre saying the gunman should face the death penalty.
Two professional judges, as well as three lay judges chosen from civil society, preside over the court. The judge, who will be replaced, posted "The death penalty is the only just outcome of this case" on a Facebook page.