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Confessed mass killer defends his sanity

OSLO -- Confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik vehemently defended his sanity yesterday after a forensic panel found flaws in a psychiatric report that declared him sane in the eyes of the law.

As the trial for Breivik's bomb-and-shooting rampage that killed 77 people entered its second week, the far-right fanatic told a court that he was the victim of a "racist" plot to discredit his ideology. He said no one would have questioned his sanity if he were a "bearded jihadist."

"I know I'm at risk of ending up at an insane asylum, and I'm going to do what I can to avoid that," Breivik said.

Two psychiatric examinations conducted before the trial reached opposite conclusions on whether Breivik, 33, is psychotic -- the key issue to be resolved during the trial, because he has admitted to the deadly attacks.

The second of those reports, which found him sane, has not yet been approved by the Norwegian Board of Forensic Medicine. Yesterday, the panel highlighted several shortcomings in that assessment, and requested additional information from the two psychiatrists who wrote it.

In particular, the forensic board said it could not be established whether Breivik had adjusted his behavior during the examination as part of a strategy to be declared mentally competent.

Paal Groendahl, a forensic psychologist who is not involved with the case but has followed the trial in court, said the panel's queries underscore the difficulty in assessing Breivik's state of mind.

"I don't think it's any closer to being resolved," he said.

If found sane, Breivik would face 21 years in prison, though he can be held longer if deemed a danger to society. If sentenced to psychiatric care, in theory he would be released once he's no longer deemed psychotic and dangerous.

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