OSLO, Norway (AP) — An Iraqi man whose brother was killed in Norway’s worst peacetime massacre hurled a shoe at the confessed killer and urged him to “go to hell” in a rare outburst Friday that briefly interrupted the terror trial of Anders Behring Breivik.
The incident was the first display of anger inside the normally subdued court room where the far-right fanatic is being tried for the bomb-and-shooting attacks that left 77 people dead on July 22.
Hayder Mustafa Qasim, 20, traveled to Norway from Baghdad this week to attend the proceedings against Breivik in Oslo’s district court, his lawyer, Kari Nessa Nordtun, told The Associated Press.
His brother Karar Mustafa Qasim, a 19-year-old who had moved to Norway as an asylum-seeker, was among the victims of Breivik’s shooting rampage at a youth camp, Nordtun said.
“I took off my shoe, got up, shouted at the killer, got eye contact with him and threw the shoe,” Qasim was quoted as saying by the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.
“He was alone in Norway, without family,” Qasim said of his brother. “The killer took his life. And he ruined the life for me and the family. I have traveled from Iraq to Norway to be in court. And it has made an enormous impression on me.”
Throwing of shoes to insult someone has long been a form of protest in many countries, but the practice gained widespread attention when an Iraqi threw his shoes at then-U.S. President George W. Bush at a televised news conference in Baghdad in 2008 during the Iraq war.
Witnesses said forensic experts were going through autopsy reports for some of the victims when a man in the second row suddenly stood up and threw a shoe at a desk where Breivik and his defense lawyers were seated.
“He shouted, ‘You killer, go to hell.’ And repeated it several times” in English, said Mikaela Akerman, a Swedish journalist who was in the court room.
The shoe hit one of Breivik’s defense lawyers but she was not hurt.
Breivik remained calm and “smiled a little” as he watched security guards apprehend the man and take him out of the court room, Akerman told The Associated Press.
“He keeps shouting and is crying heavily as he’s being led out,” Akerman said. “Some of the spectators clapped their hands. Some yelled ‘Bravo.’ Many others started crying.”
Breivik addressed the court as proceedings resumed after a 10-minute break. “If someone wants to throw something at me, you can do it when I walk in or when I leave, thank you,” he said, according to Akerman.
Police operations leader Rune Bjoersvik said the man was a brother of one of the victims, but didn’t name him. Bjoersvik downplayed the outburst, calling it a “spontaneous and emotional reaction” that didn’t pose a “serious security risk.”
The man was emotionally distressed and was taken away from the court in an ambulance, he said.
Qasim’s lawyer said the outburst was unplanned. He had listened quietly to his brother’s autopsy report on Thursday, but after hearing several more on Friday he couldn’t hold back his emotions, Nordtun said.
“It was a sudden reaction,” she told AP. “There was such a stifling atmosphere in the court. Afterward people clapped. The tension that was in the room was released.”
The incident offered a sharp break with the polite atmosphere that has reigned inside the courtroom, even as Breivik testified in graphic detail on how he set off a car bomb that killed eight people in Oslo’s government district and then hunted down teenagers at the governing Labor Party’s annual youth camp on Utoya island. More than half of the 69 people killed on Utoya were teenagers.
Breivik has admitted to the attacks but pleaded innocent to terror charges, saying the victims were traitors for embracing multiculturalism. He claims to represent a European network of modern-day crusaders opposed to Muslim immigration, but prosecutors say group does not exist.
His mental state is the key issue to be resolved during the trial. If found guilty and criminally sane, he would face 21 years in prison, though he could be held longer if deemed dangerous to society. If declared insane, he would be committed to compulsory psychiatric care.
Police didn’t say how the shoe-throwing incident would affect their security procedures at the court but as the trial resumed later Friday, three security guards were placed at the front of the gallery.
Frode Elgesem, a lawyer for the bereaved, said he didn’t consider the incident a violent attack.
“I experienced this outburst as a desperate expression of despair,” he told Norway’s NTB news agency.
The defense lawyer who was hit by the shoe, Vibeke Hein Baere, told national broadcaster NRK she hoped the incident would not be repeated during the trial, which is scheduled to end in late June.
“There are many weeks left and I hope and believe that we will return to the dignified manners we have seen up until now,” she said.
Associated Press writer Karl Ritter in Stockholm contributed to this report.
More Related Stories
- Boy Scouts poised to vote, still greatly divided on gay youth
- House supporters of KXL received $56m from fossil fuel industry
- 80-year-old becomes oldest to climb Mount Everest
- Before FBI shooting man implicated self, Tsarnaev in triple murder
- Paul McCartney backs Pussy Riot
- UK emergency committee convenes after attack
- Brave scout leader tried to reason with London attackers
- If Alex Pareene were a cable news executive...
- El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman's life hangs in the balance
- UK officials: Radical Islam behind London attack
- Pa. governor "can't find" any Latinos to work in his administration
- London machete attack could be linked to terrorism
- Conservative group blames military sexual assault on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal
- Lois Lerner, IRS disaster
- Donald Rumsfeld worried that marriage equality will lead to polygamy
- Experts: Fox News spying scandal a game-changer
- San Francisco Giant Jeremy Affeldt apologizes for homophobic past
- 9-year-old slams Rahm over Chicago schools
- Stockholm riots rage for third day
- Wall Street firm's "Golden Pitchbook" is totally sexist, full of lies
- Must-see morning clip: Toronto's eccentric and allegedly crack-smoking mayor
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11