Witness says Breivik spared him, then shot him
OSLO, Norway – A Norwegian who survived Anders Behring Breivik's shooting rampage on Utoya island capped two weeks of chilling witness statements from survivors on Friday, describing how the self-confessed killer first mistook him for a fellow right-wing extremist and spared him, then shot him when he found him again.
Adrian Pracon, 22, was the only adult survivor who was momentarily spared on July 22, when the 33-year old Norwegian right-wing extremist gunned down 69 people on the island after setting off a bomb in central Oslo that claimed eight lives.
Pracon testified that Breivik, a self-styled anti-Muslim crusader, first found him on Utoya island as he stood knee-deep in water at the shoreline with nowhere to hide.
" We got eye contact," the witness said. "I experienced it as if he made a long evaluation. When he turned away, it was very decisive. Almost as if in a military manner." Breivik lowered his weapon and went to hunt down other victims, Pracon said.
Later, Breivik returned to the shoreline where Pracon was lying and this time shot and wounded him in the shoulder, apparently while aiming for his head.
"Something died inside of me. I've been asking myself why I was spared? It doesn't give me any meaning," Pracon told the court in the last witness statement from survivors of Breivik's bloody massacre at the Labor Party's annual youth camp on the island.
Since May 11, survivors have given detailed accounts of how Breivik's emotionless "killing machine" hunted them down across the island, tracking them through the small forest and shooting them one by one. The defendant has admitted to the killings, but denies criminal guilt, saying the victims had betrayed their country by embracing immigration.
The trial now moves into a new phase where policemen and former friends will testify. The trial is expected to last until the end of June.
Breivik, who also spared the life of a young boy he considered to be below combat age, has previously said he left Pracon alone because he thought he looked like he had rightwing views, reminding him of himself.
"Breivik made a mistake to spare me," Pracon said of their first encounter. "Now I realize how fragile society is, how much it's worth, and how important it is with politics."
Breivik's sanity is key to the case and is still an unresolved issue. Two psychological examinations carried out before the 10-week trial started in mid-April reached opposite conclusions on whether he is psychotic or not.
If found guilty and sane, he would face 21 years in prison although he can be held longer if deemed a danger to society. If declared insane, he would be committed to compulsory psychiatric care.
The board responsible for authorizing both reports has not clarified whether it has accepted the content of the second report, which declared him sane, but said he suffers from personality disturbances.
On Wednesday, the judges in the case took the unusual step of admonishing the board to take a stance on the validity of the second psychiatrists' report "in writing, by June 1."
Breivik on Thursday declared he does not intend to appeal a certain guilty verdict if the court deems him sane.
Nordstrom reported from Stockholm