‘Friend took bullets meant for me’

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Andrine Johansen, who gave testimony in the case against Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik, is pictured in the court in Oslo.

Oslo - “He took the bullets meant for me.” That is what a young survivor of Anders Behring Breivik's shooting massacre on Utoeya island last year told an Oslo court on Wednesday, explaining how a friend sacrificed himself to save her.

Andrine Johansen, now 17, saw the right-wing extremist methodically execute 14 people, including several of her friends, and only narrowly escaped death herself.

Shot in the chest, she had fallen into the icy water surrounding the small island north-west of Oslo where the governing Labour Party was holding a summer camp.

“I was drowning in my own blood when I saw him execute all my friends,” she told the Oslo district court amid the sobbing of spectators on the 23rd day of Breivik's 10-week trial.

In all, 69 people died on Utoeya on July 22, most of them teenagers, while another eight died when Breivik earlier the same day bombed a government building in Oslo.

The 33-year-old has confessed to the twin attacks but has refused to plead guilty, insisting they were “cruel but necessary” to stop the Labour Party's “multicultural experiment” and the “Muslim invasion” of Norway and Europe.

Johansen recalled seeing Breivik, dressed as a police officer, hold a gun just 10cm from the head of one of her friends, and pull the trigger.

Once he had made sure everyone around the shed was dead, Breivik had turned towards the already wounded Johansen and lifted his weapon, smiling, she told the court.

Bullets went through her jumper and whizzed into the water around her without hitting her.

“When he was about to fire the next shot, Henrik Rasmussen threw himself and sacrificed himself for me. He took the bullets meant for me,” she said, as many onlookers in the courtroom again broke down in tears.

“I was sure that I would die myself,” the young girl said, describing the bodies all around her in the water.

“I wondered if I was a bad person who was allowed into heaven,” she added.

Johansen also recalled how Breivik had laughed with joy as he continued with the bloodbath.

Seated nearby, the accused shook his head at the description. Breivik is intent upon being found sane to ensure that his ideology not be written off as the ravings of a lunatic, and flatly denies that he showed any signs of joy or elation during his massacre.

Johansen described how she had lain in the cold water preparing for death. She had thought about her funeral, and had even considered using her blood to write “white” on her clothing to communicate the colour she wanted on her coffin.

When she was finally evacuated by boat, she had been sure the rescue workers “were going to kill me”.

Today physically fit, she said she was still struggling psychologically and that she could no longer eat anything red, which reminds her of the harrowing scenes she witnessed on the island.

Earlier another victim, an 18-year-old girl, who asked to remain anonymous, created a stir in the courtroom when she called Breivik an “idiot” as she told her story.

The killer, who has barely lost his composure since his trial started on April 16, smiled broadly when he heard that.

He had also smiled when Ylva Helene Schwenke, who was just 14 when he shot her four times on Utoeya, insisted that her scars were “the price for democracy”.

“I am not afraid to show my scars,” she said, revealing a large red mark at the base of her neck.

“I feel like it's a kind of victory. We have paid the price for democracy and we have won,” the teenager added.

Shot in the throat, the stomach and both thighs, Schwenke, now 15, recalled how she had thought she was going to die on Utoeya.

“I have seen films where people die from one bullet. So with four, I thought that it was impossible to survive,” she said.

If found sane, Breivik will likely face Norway's maximum 21-year prison sentence, but that term can be extended for as long as he is considered a threat to society.

If he is found criminally insane however, he will be sent to a closed psychiatric care unit for treatment. - Sapa-AFP


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