OSLO (Reuters) – A man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to stabbing five people to death and attempting to murder 11 with a bow and arrow, attacks which spread fear across a small town in Norway in October last year.
The rampage through Kongsberg, 70 km (40 miles) west of the capital Oslo, lasted more than half an hour, as the attacker randomly targeted people in their homes, on the streets and in a store while narrowly missing others, prosecutors said.
The accused, Espen Andersen Braathen, 38, a Dane who has lived his whole life in Norway, suffered from mental illness at the time of the attacks and should be sentenced to psychiatric care, rather than prison, prosecutors said.
“I plead guilty to all the charges,” Braathen told the court.
Four women and one man, aged between 52 and 78, were stabbed to death in the Oct. 13 attacks, while three were wounded by Braathen’s arrows, according to the charges.
Before the stabbings, Braathen spent about 15 minutes shooting arrows at people in a supermarket as well as outside, hitting an off-duty police officer, among others.
In addition to the murders and murder attempts, he stands accused of making aggravated threats against 13 people, and one account of attempted bodily harm.
Investigators later seized a number of weapons, including knives, arrows, bows and a sword.
Police had initially said the attack appeared to be “an act of terror” but later abandoned that theory and said Braathen had suffered from mental illness for years. He has been kept at a psychiatric facility since October.
“We hope that we will get answers,” prosecutor Andreas Christiansen told Norwegian private broadcaster TV2 before the trial started.
Proceedings in the Kongsberg trial are scheduled to last until June 22.
(Reporting by Victoria Klesty, editing by Terje Solsvik and Nick Macfie)