“The road map is ready: There will be 1 accused on trial, 5 judges, 2 prosecutors, 4 defence lawyers, 174 lawyers helping survivors and victims’ relatives, around 800 survivors and relatives, and 500-600 journalists from 20 countries.”
Anders Brevik, the Norwegian man who bombed Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s office on the 22nd of July last year (2011) will face trial in April this year.
There is enormous interest in the case and that has caused the Norwegian court handling the matter to come up with a road map for his trial.
It is now clear that in the beginning of March the prosecutors will present the
formal charges against Breivik. At the same time, witnesses in the case will be formally informed and a timeline of the different phases of the trial revealed.
There have been some discussions as to whether Breivik will be charged for
crimes against humanity. Other things that will happen before the trial is an appeal over the naming of the third and fourth psychiatric experts appointed by the court.
In February, the court may have reached a decision on whether to allow the proceedings to be filmed. This is also the time the choice of the 3 laymen who together with to Judges will try Breivik’s case.
The trial is expected to begin on the 16th of April and is expected to last for 10 weeks – unless something drastic happens forcing the court to extend the duration. The court has revealed that the case will be on Mondays through Thursdays 9 a.m and 3.30 p.m. Due to the work-load in this case, Fridays will be used by the defence and prosecution to prepare themselves for the following week’s work.
The court has confrimed that the will be one accused on trial, 5 judges to listen to the case, 2 prosecutors, 4 defence lawyers defending the terrorist, 174 lawyers helping survivors and victims’ relatives, around 800 survivors and relatives. Due to the interest in the case, around 500 and 600 journalists from 20 countries have indicated their intention to be present during the trial.
The venue of the case has only 200 seats and that is seen as a very big challenge for those in charge of the proceedings. They have to sort out how many people should be allowed entry. The journalists who will be accredited will, however, be catered for if they will not get entry to the court. A press centre will be set up
It is, so far, unclear whether the court will allow journalists and other interested parties to film or take pictures. The court will decide on this sometime in February.
The different phases of the trial:
The trial will start with the prosecution presenting its overall view of
the case, followed by comments from the defence. In a normal trial the process can last for 10 to 15 minutes. Breivik’s case, is unusual and cannot be said is a normaal case. Due to this fact, the presentation is expected to last longer, - one whole day is a probability.
Immediately after the presentation, the accused will be called upon to describe, in his own words, what he did, how he did it and why. This can go on for several days. He can be questioned by the judges, the prosecution, the defence and the lawyers representing the survivors and the victims’ relatives.
On completion of his testimony, witnesses will testify, followed by more material evidence, such as post-mortem reports to be presented to the
court. This will be followed by court-appointed psychiatric experts, who will present their assessments and answer some questions. The prosecution will sum up the case, followed by contributions from the lawyers supporting the survivors and relatives of victims. The defence will then sum up its case.
The accused will get one more chance to say a few final words before the court adjourns.
Once the trial is over, the judges will retire for some weeks before convening the court to read the verdict. The verdict could be ready sometime in the middle of July.
The trial will be conducted as any other criminal case. The duty of the judges in this case, however, is to determine whether Breivik is criminally insane or not. Their findings will guide them in the determination of the accused’s sentence.
In making their decision, the judges do not have many options.. The Norwegian law, unlike in some countries like the US where judges can order the case a mistrial, dictates that the judges are to convict or acquit the accused.
The judges may decide to agree with prosecution and sentence the accused as per the charge sheet, but they may also decide to go for a lesser charge. It is unclear whether they can impose higher sentence than that which will be requested by the prosecution.
The court has confirmed that five judges will decide Breivik’s fate - two professionals and three lay men, - who are volunteers, - drawn by lottery from a database of 8,000 Norwegians registered as residents in Oslo. The selection of the three lay men is expected to take place coming weeks.
Broadcasting of the trial:
The judges have not decided whether to allow TV cameras to broadcast
the trial to the wider public. It does not usually happen during Norwegian
trials, but the option is not ruled out here due to the unique nature of the case.
The proceedings in Oslo will be broadcast to 18 courts around the country. This will be done in order to enable the survivors and relatives of victims who do not live in the capital city to have the opportunity to follow the proceedings. It has also been revealed that the trial will be recorded for historical purposes.
Media coverage to the trial:
Over the past few weeks, the Foreign Press Association in Norway has been discussing with the Oslo court about media coverage of the trial. The access to TV, courtroom and simultaneous translation, among other things.
So far the indication is that some foreign media will be allowed in the courtroom and accredited media will be allowed to follow the proceedings in a press room next to the court room where the accused will stand trial, or in a Press Centre to be set up at Hotel Bristol – some 75 metres from the court house, that can cater for 300 to 400 journalists. Information about how accreditation and other important information will be made public any time before the trial kicks off.
Journalists who will follow the proceedings in the press room at Hotel Bristol will not be allowed to film the screen. Guards will be posted there to ensure filming does not take place.
The Foreign Press Association in Norway has asked the court to give clear guidelines as to what the penalties would be for breaking the rules. For now, it is believed that a likely penalty will be the withdrawal of the accreditation for the rest of the trial.
The Foreign Press Association has also highlighted to the court the possibility that survivors and relatives could film Breivik and post pictures on social media. If such a thing happens, the media may decide to use such films and photographs.
If found insane, Breivik may be sentenced to serve in a psychiatric institution. The court has not given out information on the comparison between serving a sentence in a prison and in a psychiatric institution. The Foreign Press Association in Norway is seeking to get a law professor who understands and can elaborate on this.