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Norway survivors of Breivik massacre tell of pain

Norwegian anti-Muslim fanatic Anders Behring Breivik arrives with his defence lawyer Geir Lippestad (left) in court in Oslo April 27, 2012. — Reuters picNorwegian anti-Muslim fanatic Anders Behring Breivik arrives with his defence lawyer Geir Lippestad (left) in court in Oslo April 27, 2012. — Reuters picOSLO, April 27 — A Norwegian civil servant who had to have his leg amputated after a bomb planted by far right fanatic Anders Behring Breivik tore through his body spoke today of the moment his life changed forever.

“Suddenly something hits me, a very strong pressure wave that lifts me up and throws me far away,” Tore Raasok, a 56-year-old transport ministry worker, told judges trying Breivik for the murder last summer of 77 people in cold blood.

Raasok is one of eight survivors of Breivik's July 22 bombing of government offices due to take the witness stand today to describe the effect his crimes had on their life.

Survivors of Breivik's other atrocity – a shooting rampage on a Labour party island camp – will appear before the court at a later date.

Approaching the stand slowly on crutches, Raasok said he had just left the transport ministry in Oslo to get a haircut when Breivik's fertiliser bomb blew up half a block away.

Formerly an avid skier, Raasok said the blast had sent glass shards flying into both his eyes, and that both his legs had been crushed. The left one later had to be amputated, and the transport ministry employee said he had undergone 10 operations and had lost the use of his left arm.

“Things have gone pretty well with my eyes,” the bespectacled civil servant said, as Breivik watched intently just a few metres away. “I see as poorly as I did before the event,” he added with black humour.

“All this is very tough to hear,” prosecutor Svein Holden told Reuters. “But these cases are part of the indictment, so the victims have to shed light on the consequences of what happened.”

Coma

Breivik, 33, is charged with terrorism and murder for detonating a bomb that killed eight people and injured more than 200, and for then gunning down 69 others at a Labour Party island camp, most of them aged between 14 and 19 years old.

People place flowers near the entrance of a courthouse where the trial of Anders Behring Breivik is conducted, as thousands turn up in poor weather at Youngstorget Square to sing a popular children's song in Oslo April 26, 2012. — Reuters picPeople place flowers near the entrance of a courthouse where the trial of Anders Behring Breivik is conducted, as thousands turn up in poor weather at Youngstorget Square to sing a popular children's song in Oslo April 26, 2012. — Reuters picHe has admitted he carried out the killings but has denied criminal guilt, insisting the victims were left-leaning “traitors” whose presumed political support for immigration was helping destroy European culture.

Kristian Rasmussen, another bomb victim, told the court he was writing an email in his office at the energy ministry when “everything went black.”

“I was in a coma for about 12 days and there was a lot of uncertainty if I would survive,” the 31-year-old recalled.

Rasmussen sustained major head injuries, including severe bleeding on the brain, a broken neck and major abdominal wounds. He was hospitalised for almost two months.

Other survivors have lost much of their hearing.

Outside the courthouse, thousands of roses were still in place, lain by some of the 40,000 people who gathered yesterday to sing a song derided by Breivik in a demonstration organisers said was meant to support his victims and show the gunman he had not broken their tolerant society.

Dressed in an olive suit, Breivik was not scheduled to speak today but was informed of yesterday's protest and had “made a note of it”, one of his lawyers said. He showed no visible sign of emotion as his victims spoke.

The trial, which is likely to pivot on whether Breivik is ruled insane or not, is expected to last until late June as witnesses tell their stories and political and mental-health experts discuss Breivik's militant views. — Reuters

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