15 May 2012

Breivik survivors describe fleeing shooting spree

9:58 am on 15 May 2012

Witnesses who were shot and wounded by Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik have told of their extraordinary escapes at his trial in Oslo.

Mr Breivik admits killing eight people in a bombing of government buildings in the capital Oslo on 22 July last year, followed by a shooting spree later that day at a Labour Party youth camp on Utoeya Island in which 69 died.

The 33-year-old's trial will decide whether he is sane or not, the BBC reports.

Silja Kristianne Uteng, 21, told the court on Monday she fled across the camp site into the lake and "swam for her life" along with several others, but saw the killer appear at the shore.

"I thought that now I will die. I thought that I would rather drown than be shot."

Ms Uteng managed to swim the 600m through cold waters to the mainland and said she only realised she had been shot in the arm when she took off her jacket and saw blood and a bullet hole.

Lars Groennestad, 20, said Breivik had shot him in the shoulder, narrowly missing his spine but puncturing his lung. He said he had run to hide under trees, covering himself in soil to reduce being spotted, and waited until police came to help him.

A third witness, Frida Holm Skoglund, 20, asked for Breivik to be removed from court, as she was too nervous to testify before the man who tried to kill her.

She recounted how she fled into woods and removed a bullet from her thigh, after at first not believing it when a friend pointed out that she had been shot.

Anders Breivik denies criminal responsibility and claims to have been defending Norway from immigration. He says he attacked the youth event on the island because of the Labour Party's support for multiculturalism.

If the court finds that he is sane, he could face 21 years in prison. If not, he is likely to be held indefinitely in a psychiatric institution.