- What is the Forensic Psychiatry Commission?

The Forensic Psychiatry Commission is a national commission appointed by the Ministry of Justice on the authority of Section 146 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

The main duty of the Commission is to consider expert-witness reports from forensic psychiatrists in criminal cases.  

The Commission’s task is to quality-control all submitted declarations and statements falling under the head of forensic psychiatry. 

The Commission is divided into the following specialist groups: Forensic Pathology and Clinical Forensic Medicine, Toxicology, Genetics and Psychiatry. The members of the Commission are appointed for a period of three years at a time. 

The 22 July Case features two expert reports, both of which have been considered by the Forensic Psychiatry Commission. See documents on the expert reports and the replies from the Commission here (in Norwegian). 

The chairman of the Forensic Psychiatry Commission and the chairman of the Psychiatry group of the Forensic Psychiatry Commission will be testifying about their conclusions to the Court on 18 June. 

Read more about the Forensic Psychiatry Commission here (in Norwegian). 

- Why are there two reports from two different expert witnesses appointed by the court?

On 28 July 2011 the District Court appointed Dr Torgeir Husby, head of department and consultant psychiatrist, and Synne Sørheim, consultant psychiatrist, as expert witnesses to determine the legal sanity of the defendant. The expert witnesses submitted their written declaration on 29 November 2011.

On the basis of an overall evaluation the court found it necessary to appoint two additional expert witnesses in order to assess the legal sanity of the defendant. The court believed that the very special and extremely serious nature of the case made it necessary to further investigate the question of legal sanity. Consultant psychiatrists Agnar Aspaas and Terje Tørrisen were appointed as expert witnesses to undertake a forensic psychiatric investigation of the accused. They submitted their written declaration on 10 April 2012.

During the trial both Husby/Sørheim and Aspaas/Tørrisen are present and will review their assessments and report on their conclusions 12, 13, 14 and 15 June.

An expert witness has special knowledge in a particular professional field of which the court requires more detailed investigation. Expert witnesses can be used in both criminal and civil cases. The expert witness is appointed by the court. The parties to a case may also engage their own expert witnesses.

- What happens during the judges’ conference?

When the court proceedings are over, the two professional judges and the three lay judges meet in conference. Only the judges participate in this conference. 

The judges’ conference consists of informal meetings between the five judges. There are no restrictions on the number of such meetings; they take whatever time they need to discuss the questions raised by the case.

The professional judges and the lay judges have one vote each, which means that they are equals in deciding whether – in the light of what has been elucidated in court - the accused is guilty or not guilty. The same applies to sentencing, if they find him guilty. If the judges differ, the decision follows the majority vote.

If the Court finds the accused to lack criminal responsibility, he cannot be sentenced to penal sanctions, but only to compulsory psychiatry treatment. The same voting rules apply.  

The draft judgment is written by the professional judges, but the judgment must be signed by all five judges.  

- How is the judgment given?

Judgment is entered in a court hearing at which the accused is present. The verdict will be read by the presiding judge, Wenche Elisabeth Arntzen. She may either read out the judgment in its entirety or as a minimum review its main points and read the rendition of judgment in its entirety.

The judgment will be given on the 24 August.

Permission for broadcasting of the judgment has been given.

- What are the opportunities for appeal?

The ruling of the Oslo District Court may be appealed to the Borgarting court of appeal. The deadline for appeal is two weeks. A court of appeal’s ruling can in turn be appealed to the Supreme Court.

The appeal may concern:

1. The assessment of the evidence in the question of guilt.

2. The sentencing.

3. The consideration of the case (if procedural errors have been made that may have affected the verdict).

4. The application of the law.

In the case of appeal to the Supreme Court the appeal may not be on the grounds of the assessment of the evidence in the question of guilt.

When the appeal concerns criminal actions that by law can lead to imprisonment for more than six years the appeal to the court of appeal cannot normally be denied.

There is no right to have the appeal considered by the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court’s appeal board must consent to the appeal. The Supreme Court normally only accepts the appeal if there is a need for legal clarification, or legal precedence, or if obvious errors have been made in the lower court.

- What about the procedure in the Court of Appeal?

Since the penal framework is six years or more, the question of culpability shall be decided by the jury, which consists of ten persons, as far as possible five women and five men. The members are drawn from the panel of appellate court members on a case-by-case basis. The Court is then constituted with three professional judges, who inter alia decide on any procedural matters that arise along the way. If the Court of Appeal finds the accused guilty, sentencing is done by the three professional judges together with four of the jury members. 

If there is an appeal to Borgarting Court of Appeal, the case will probably come up in January 2013. The appeal will also be heard in Courtroom 250 in Oslo Courthouse.

- How is the Norwegian legal system structured?

The courts are structured as district courts, courts of appeal and the Supreme Court. All cases begin before the district court, which is the ordinary court of first instance. Norway is divided into court districts, and there is a district court in each district. In total there are 66 district courts, 6 courts of appeal, and the Norwegian Supreme Court. Read more about the courts.

What is the longest penalty? 

The longest penalty is 21 years’ imprisonment – or permanent detention for 21 years. A sentence of permanent detention can be imposed if there is considerable danger of repetition. Permanent detention is not subject to any timeframe. However, the court always fixes a timeframe that may not exceed 21 years. When the timeframe expires the offender may be re-assessed. If the court concludes that there is still a danger of repetition the timeframe may be extended by up to five years at a time. There is no upper limit to the number of times that the court may extend the timeframe. In principle, a person that is sentenced to permanent detention can remain in prison for the rest of his or her life.

Only offenders that are of sound mind may be sentenced to permanent detention. Persons that were not of sound mind at the time of the crime may be sentenced to the special sanctions of involuntary commitment or compulsory mental healthcare.

- What will take place before Breivik begins his statement?

When the hearing begins the presiding judge will state that the court is in session and present the case, the members of the court, and the parties present. The presiding judge will request the personal details of the defendant. The prosecutor will then read the indictment and the defendant will be asked whether he pleads guilty or not-guilty. Then the prosecutor will make an opening statement, with information to the court on the details of the case. The defence counsel will then submit remarks on the opening statement. Thereafter the defendant can begin his statement. See a summary of the trial procedure.

 - How are the lay judges selected? 

For each district court there must be two panels of lay judges, one for women and the other for men, from which the lay judges are nominated. The panels of lay judges are elected by the municipal or city council, and the term of election is four years.

The Norwegian Courts Act makes certain requirements of eligibility for election of lay judges. Among other things, they must be aged at least 21, be eligible to vote, and be eligible for election to the municipal council. They must be either Norwegian, a citizen of a Nordic country, or have been entered in the Norwegian National Population Register as domiciled in Norway for the past three years. The ability to speak and understand Norwegian is also a condition. Lay judges must also have a clean criminal record.

Several professions may not be elected as lay judges, including members of parliament, police officers and attorneys. Read more about lay judges.

- Is it possible for aggrieved parties who are to appear as witnesses to follow the case from the beginning?

Aggrieved parties have the right to be present from the beginning, but the general rule is that they must not hear other witnesses who give evidence on the same matters. For example, this means that an Utøya witness may follow the case from day one, up to the commencement of the hearing of Utøya witnesses. The legal aid attorneys representing the victims have requested dispensation from this rule, but this will not be decided until the week before the case commences.

- May the legal aid attorneys representing the victims call their own witnesses?

No. The legal aid attorneys may propose witnesses for the prosecution’s list of witnesses. The legal attorneys will present their witnesses 18 June.

- What is allowed and what is not allowed for journalists in the courtroom?

There are no restrictions on what is reported in writing from the trial, unless the court prohibits reporting. It is not permitted to film or take photographs. A pool scheme has been set up for the elements of the trial of which filming and photography are permitted. See more information here.

- What happens if journalists do not comply with the rules?

They can be fined for contempt of court. They can also lose their accreditation to both the main hearing courtroom and the press centres.

- Is it permitted to twitter about what is taking place?

Yes, this is permitted. There are no restrictions on what is reported in writing from the trial, unless the court prohibits reporting.

- What kind of internet access is available in the courthouse during the trial?

It is wireless internet access that is greatly expanded for the trial. It is also wired Internet with very large capacity. The big media center has 2x48 outlets.
3G: Telenor and Netcom will provide expanded 3G/4G-capacity in the courthouse, especially at the 2nd floor.

- Is there any live positions inside the court house?

It is several types of live-points at different locations in the 2 floor. The use of these is distributed by the court.



Siden ble sist oppdatert: 05.07.2012, kl. 15.02