An immigrant who had an arm and a leg amputated after surviving Norway’s Utoeya massacre said Thursday he thought he was back in Iraq when he saw the carnage wreaked by Anders Behring Breivik last July.
Mohammed Hadi Hamed told the Oslo court that the rightwing extremist shot him twice as he lay on the ground, then returned and fired at him a third time when he realized his target was still breathing.
Hamed smelled gunpowder and “charred skin” from the body that fell on top of him, and said he thought he was the only survivor of an explosion when he looked up and saw “dying people” all around him.
“For a minute I thought I was in Iraq because such a thing was impossible in Norway,” said the 21-year-old now confined to a wheelchair.
“I’m Iraqi, I’ve seen execution videos,” Hamed told the court.
“The difference is that the victims (in the videos) had their hands tied. Our hands weren’t tied but we were trapped on an island.”
His left arm and leg were amputated because of his severe injuries, and he now lives in a hospital.
“At the beginning I had a hard time understanding what kind of person I had become, since I’d become a half-person,” he said, adding he consoled himself with the thought that he was in the end “better off” than Breivik who would spend the rest of his days either in prison or a psychiatric ward.
Breivik killed 77 people on July 22, first detonating a car bomb outside government headquarters and killing eight, then gunning down 69 people, mostly teenagers, at the ruling Labour Party’s summer camp on Utoeya Island.
The 10-week trial is largely focused on the issue of his sanity to determine whether he will be sent to prison or to a mental institution, and witness testimonies are crucial to establish his behaviour during the killings.
A first psychiatric exam found him insane but a second opinion drew the opposite conclusion.
The 33-year-old rightwing extremist is intent on proving that he is sane so that his anti-Islam ideology, as outlined in a 1,500-page manifesto, will not be considered the ravings of a lunatic.
Breivik has confessed to the killings 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.
If the court finds him sane, Breivik will 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.
The verdict is due in July.