Norway's national police commissioner Oystein Maeland resigned from his post on Thursday after an independent commission suggested in a report released three days ago that last year's deadly twin attacks by right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik could have been averted had the police acted faster.
Maeland's resignation was first announced by Norway's Justice Minister Grete Faremo during a TV debate late on Thursday. Maeland, who took up his post just days before Breivik carried out the massacre in July last year, later confirmed his decision to quit.
Maeland was quoted as saying by the the NTB news agency later on Thursday that he submitted his resignation as he no longer has the "confidence of the Justice Ministry," which he stressed was "decisive for me to remain in my job."
"If the Ministry and other political authorities do not clarify this matter unequivocally, it will become impossible for me to continue," Maeland added.
It has more than a year since Breivik killed 77 people in a deadly car bombing in the Norwegian capital Oslo and a shooting rampage at a youth camp of the ruling Labor party on Utoya Island on July 22, 2011. While eight people were killed in the car bomb attack targeting government headquarters in central Oslo, 69 others were killed in the shooting spree in Utoya.
Breivik surrendered to authorities soon after the killings. He has since admitted to carrying out both the attacks, but has denied criminal responsibility for his actions. He has been charged with "acts of terrorism," including an attempt to "disturb or destroy the functions of society, such as the government" and to spread "serious fear" among the population.
Breivik claims that he carried out the twin attacks to "save Norway and Western Europe from a Muslim takeover." He also blames the Labor party of "mass imports of Muslims" and insists that the objective of the attack was to give a "sharp signal to the people" of Norway.
The latest development comes after Alexandra Bech Gjoerv, head of the ten-member independent commission set up for reviewing the police response to the twin attacks, submitted her panel's final report to Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg on Monday.
"The attack on the government complex on July 22 could have been prevented through effective implementation of already adopted security measures," the Commission said in its report, which also criticized the "unacceptable" amount of time police took to respond to the shootings at Utoya.
The commission also noted that police had enough information and time to stop Breivik as he headed to Utoya from the bombing site. Nevertheless, the panel ruled out arguments that Norway's domestic intelligence agency, the PST, "could and should have averted the attacks."
Incidentally, Breivik's ten-week trial over the killings ended in June, and a verdict is expected on August 24. He faces at least 21 years in prison if convicted of the charges, provided the court decides that he was sane while carrying out the twin attacks.
by RTT Staff Writer
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