Young Norwegians injured in Anders Behring Breivik’s Utoeya island massacre last year described to an Oslo court Tuesday their initial disbelief before they grasped the extent of the bloodbath.
“You would think it was a bad horror film,” Eirin Kristin Kjaer testified on the 22nd day of Breivik’s trial for the killing of 77 people on July 22, 2011.
Today aged 20, the young woman explained how she had fled when she heard the first shots and how a bullet had gone through her jumper but missed her.
But as she hid with others among the big boulders on the shore, she agreed to change places with a friend who felt too exposed -- something she said she was still glad she had done -- and she was shot in the stomach.
“I felt like my stomach was exploding. It hurt like hell,” said Kjaer, who was also shot in the arm, the knee and the ribs that day.
Then she had started running again, shouting: “Please, don’t shoot me! I don’t want to die!” before in the end sitting down, resigned to her fate, not even bothering to try to stop her bleeding.
She was finally evacuated by boat, and has so far had to undergo 11 operations with yet more expected.
“Others will follow,” she said, as Breivik looked on without showing any sign of emotion.
But 69 others who were taking part in the summer camp hosted by the ruling Labor Party’s youth wing on that fateful day in July did not leave Utoeya alive.
Espen Myklebust, a strapping lad of 18, meanwhile told the Oslo district court that he had first thought the shots were part of “a crazy drill.”
But when he saw people frantically running in every direction and desperately calling their families, he like many others threw himself into the icy water surrounding the small, heart-shaped island.
He was shot in the back but the wound turned out to be fairly superficial.
Not strong enough to cross the lake, he swam alongside the shore and then out to a boat not far from the island.
But the boat was already full with panicked youths, and Myklebust, who was exhausted, was given a life vest, and a friend held on to him until police finally turned up and fished them out of the water.
Breivik, today 33, was “cold” and “his face was expressionless,” Myklebust recalled.
“He was as calm as a person can be. He moved around as if nothing was happening,” he said, but added that he had also seen the confessed killer smile.
“A big smile,” he said, adding that he had thought Breivik was a neo-Nazi because of his blond hair and the fact that he was targeting the Labor Party.
The right-wing extremist, who earlier on July 22 had also bombed a government building in Oslo, killing eight people, has confessed to the twin attacks but has refused to plead guilty, insisting they were “cruel but necessary” to stop the Labor Party’s “multicultural experiment” and the “Muslim invasion” of Norway and Europe.
On Tuesday, three other Utoeya survivors gave their harrowing accounts of the island massacre.
Shot five times, including once in the head, Viljar Hanssen, now 18, described the anxiety of being separated from his 14-year-old brother, and the relief when he found out he had not been harmed.
In his emotional yet humor-filled testimony, Hanssen recalled how he had stayed alive by thinking about things he loved, like “girls and snow scooters”: “Death was not an option,” he said.
Cathrine Troennes Lie meanwhile told the court about the last time she saw her 16-year-old sister before Breivik shot and killed her.
They had given each other a thumbs-up and a broad smile to show all would be fine.
“All hell has broken loose,” Troennes Lie said, describing what she saw when she regained consciousness after herself being shot twice, with one bullet puncturing a lung, and looked up to see the carnage around her.
Another witness, an 18-year-old girl, meanwhile had many onlookers, including Breivik himself, smiling when she told the court she wanted to work in psychiatric care or as a prison guard.
Depending on whether the court finds him criminally sane, the confessed killer will likely be spending the rest of his life either in a prison or in a closed psychiatric care unit.