Published Monday, 16 April 2012
Anders Breivik, who is facing terror and premeditated murder charges. (© PA)
Shock reverberated around the world in the wake of the terror attacks in Oslo and at a youth camp on Utøya island, with many cities - including Belfast - opening books of condolence for the victims.
On Monday, the high-profile trial got underway with the streets sealed off around the custom-built courtroom designed to hold 200 people.
Breivik, who made a closed-fist salute at the start of the proceedings, then rejected the authority of the court.
"I don't recognise Norwegian courts because you get your mandate from the Norwegian political parties who support multiculturalism," the 33-year-old right-wing militant said.
He showed no emotion as prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh read his indictment on terror and premeditated murder charges, detailing how each of the victims died.
Eight people were killed in the bomb blast in Oslo's government district, while 69 were shot dead at the Labor Party youth camp.
"I admit to the acts, but not criminal guilt," Breivik said.
Self-styled as a Christian conservative, patriot and nationalist who looks down on neo-Nazis, Breivik claims to be part of a resistance group inspired by the Knights Templar crusaders and to have connections with British extremists he met in the UK in 2002.
But prosecutor Svein Holden told the court: "In our opinion, such a network does not exist."
Breivik further claims the attacks were necessary to protect Norway from being taken over by Muslims and were strikes against the political forces he blames for allowing immigration.
Norwegian law does hold a principle of preventive self-defence, but legal expert Jarl Borgvin Doerre - who has written a book on the subject - says it does not apply in Breivik's case.
Crucial questions still remain over Breivik's mental health, which will determine whether he is sent to prison or to psychiatric care. If found to be mentally competent and guilty of the charges, he faces a maximum of 21 years in prison or being held under an alternative custody arrangement for as long as he is deemed a danger to society.
Breivik insists he is not insane and has called right-wing extremists and radical Islamists to give evidence during the ten-week trial, to show that there are others who share his view of clashing civilisations.
Many of the victims' families fear that the accused will use the trial - parts of which will be shown on Norwegian television - to promote his extremist ideology, as he did write online before the attacks that "patriotic resistance fighters" should use trials "as a platform to further our cause".
His testimony to the court will not be allowed to be broadcast.