Mass killer Anders Breivik, who has admitted carrying out the cold-blooded massacre of 77 people in Norway, has been declared criminally insane and may escape a prison sentence.
The 32-year-old is due to stand trial for the July murders on 16 April next year but may now be confined to psychiatric care, rather than prison. The assessment made by two psychiatrists revealed the Norwegian is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.
The doctors believe he was in a psychotic state during and after the twin attacks on 22 July which also injured 151 people. Breivik admits to carrying out the attacks but pleaded not guilty to all charges, arguing the attacks were necessary as part of his campaign against a Muslim invasion.
"If the final conclusion is that Breivik is insane, we will request the court in the upcoming legal proceedings pass sentence by which Breivik is subjected to compulsory mental health care," prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh told reporters in Oslo.
Four months ago, Breivik disguised himself as a police officer and planted a car bomb close to government offices in Norway's capital Oslo, killing eight people. He then drove to Utoeya, an island where a summer Labour Party youth camp was taking place and boarded a boat, still dressed in uniform.
What followed shocked the world. In a shooting spree lasting more than an hour, he killed 69 people, most of whom were teenagers.
Breivik had previously published an online statement saying he was fighting to defend Europe from Muslims which was possible due to "cultural Marxists" both in Norway's ruling Labour Party and the EU.
Before the psychiatrists' report was made public, a lawyer for the victims said it did not matter what the conclusion was as long as Breivik was not allowed to go free, the BBC reported.
"What will happen in the case, no matter what the conclusion, is that he [Breivik] will of course be incarcerated," John Christian Elden said.
"And if the outcome is criminally sane or insane, that is, first and foremost a psychiatric question. The most important thing in our clients' opinion is that he will not be able to walk the streets."
The 243-page report will be reviewed by a panel from the Norwegian Board of Forensic Medicine, before any final conclusion is reached.