Norway police were "fantastic': justice minister

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Norway's justice minister on Tuesday hailed "fantastic" police work after Anders Behring Breivik killed at least 76 people, setting aside criticisms that police had reacted too slowly to a shooting massacre.

Although Breivik has spoken of "two more cells," police believe he probably acted alone in Friday's bombing and shooting attacks, which have united Norwegians in revulsion.

"It is very important that we have an open and critical approach...but there is a time for everything," Knut Storberget said after talks with Oslo's police chief, referring to questions, mostly in the media, about the police response time.

An armed SWAT team took more than an hour to reach Utoeya island, where Breivik was coolly shooting terrified youngsters at a ruling Labor Party youth camp. He killed 68 there and eight in an earlier bombing of Oslo's government district.

Police are likely to release the names of the victims on Tuesday, a day after they revised the death toll down to 76 from 93, the NTB news agency said.

Storberget also denied police had ignored threats posed by right-wing zealots in Norway. "I reject suggestions that we have not had the far-right under the microscope," he said.

Many Norwegians seem to agree the police do not deserve opprobrium for their response. At a march of more than 100,000 in Oslo on Monday night, people applauded rescue workers.

Scepticism about accomplices

Breivik, 32, told a judge at his custody hearing on Monday that two other cells in his "organization" existed.

However, a source close to the investigation said: "We feel that the accused has fairly low credibility when it comes to this claim but none of us dare to be completely dismissive about it either."

Researchers also doubt Breivik's claim that he is part of a wider far-right network of anti-Islam "crusaders," seeing it as bragging by a psychopathic fantasist who has written that exaggeration is a way to sow confusion among investigators.

Norway has felt some relief that Breivik seems to have acted alone in trying to save Europe from "cultural Marxism" and a "Muslim invasion" by striking at the ruling Labour Party.

The Aftenposten daily said Breivik's interrogation was moving slowly, with the confessed killer silent on his claims about sleeper cells or other potential collaborators.

Prosecutors will consider whether Breivik's acts fall under a 2008 law on crimes against humanity, said Staale Eskeland, professor of criminal law at Oslo University.

"To kill a group of civilians systematically is the basic criteria" for charges of crimes against humanity, Eskeland said, adding that the maximum penalty for this offence was 30 years in jail, rather than 21 years under the anti-terrorism law.

In both cases the sentence can be extended for up to five years at a time if there is risk of repeat offences.

So far Breivik has been charged with "destabilizing or destroying basic functions of society" and "creating serious fear in the population." Police attorney Christian Hatlo has said Breivik expects to spend the rest of his life in jail.

More than 100,000 Norwegians rallied in Oslo on Monday night, many carrying white and red roses, to mourn the dead and to show unity after July 22. Tens of thousands of others rallied in other cities from Tromsoe to Bergen.

In signs that police are skeptical that Breivik was part of a wider network, border controls imposed on July 22 were lifted late on Monday. Norway has not asked other countries to launch probes, nor has it raised the threat level for terrorism.

Even the final entry in Breivik's own 1,500 page manifesto says on July 22: "The old saying: 'if you want something done, then do it yourself' is as relevant now as it was then."

"Intuitively, it feels like he is alone when you read the document. It's like he's lost in this made-up world and can't distinguish between fantasy and reality," said Magnus Ranstorp, Research Director at the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defense College.

"They (mass killers) are usually alone," he said.

Police defended themselves from suggestions that some alarm bells should have rung about Breivik. The head of the PST security police even said he would have slipped through the net in former East Germany with its feared Stasi police.

PST says Breivik's name appeared only once, on a list of 50-60 Norwegians sent by Interpol after he paid 120 crowns ($22.16) to a Polish company that sold chemicals and was on a watch list. They found no reason to react.

Stasi Germany

"I don't think even Stasi Germany could have uncovered this person," PST chief Janne Kristiansen told the VG newspaper's online edition, adding he was "the incarnation of evil."

Breivik admits the attacks, but denies criminal responsibility. Even his father is horrified.

"In my darkest moments, I think that rather than killing all those people, he should have taken his own life," Breivik's father told Norwegian independent TV2 in France.

He said his son, with whom he has had no contact since he was a teenager, must be mentally ill.

Other researchers say that he shares traits with past mass murderers.

"He has no empathy, he is indifferent to the people he kills, he has no conscience and no remorse," said Ragnhild Bjoernebekk, a researcher at Norway's police school.

"Evil can kill a person but never conquer a people," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said at Monday evening's rally, probably the biggest in the nation of 4.8 million since the end of World War Two.

"Our fathers and mothers promised 'never again April 9'. We promise 'never again July 22'," he said. Nazi Germany invaded Norway on April 10, 1940 and occupied it for five years.

Many Norwegians have expressed relief that Breivik seems to have been a home-grown loner, rather than, for instance, an al Qaeda militant. Many compare him to Timothy McVeigh who killed 168 people with a truck bomb in Oklahoma City in 1995.

"If this was done by a foreigner it would have been very difficult," said Raj Pereet Singh, a Norwegian whose parents immigrated.

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