Norwegian killer Anders Behring Breivik has gone on trial for the killing of 77 people in a bomb and gun attack in July 2011.

The Oslo court has been hearing from Breivik for the first time as he pleads not guilty and said he was defending his country.

RTÉ News Deputy Foreign Editor Anthony Murnane has been following the trial.

Mr Breivik "believes he is a political activist, in reality he is just a murderer".

That's the view of Tore Bekkedal who survived Breivik's shooting rampage at a Labour party youth summer camp last July.

69 people died in the attack on the island on that day. The country was coming to terms with the bomb attack in Oslo which killed eight people.

It then emerged within a couple of hours that a gunman was on the loose on Utoeya island 40 kilometres away. Disguised as a police officer Breivik lured some of his victims out of hiding saying help had arrived.

Other victims jumped into the lake, where he shot them in the water.

77 people in all were killed.

In court

This week Anders Behring Breivik sits in Oslo courtroom 250. In another context he could be just another well groomed young man with his neatly parted hair and trimmed beard.

Here he stands accused of Norway's worst peace time atrocity. He admits he carried out the attacks and doesn't want to be judged insane.

When we heard from him for the first time this week his driving force was apparent. He saw himself as a "representative of those who do not want their ethnic rights taken away".

He opposed those upholding multicultural values and said he would "do it all again".

'Anti-immigration'

The 33-year-old’s main objective is to prove he is sane. He would see that judgement as vindication of his anti-Muslim and anti-immigration cause.

At one point proceedings were briefly delayed with the removal of the lay judge who had posted a Facebook comment calling for the death penalty for Breivik in the aftermath of the attacks.

His rushed opinions of July 2011 probably echoed the views of many fellow Norwegians, survivors and their relatives.

Some of them are at the courtroom for this trial.

Daily, Breivik passes them with a slow, steady walk. There is a deliberate glance over his shoulder to them.

Court verdict

Court-appointed psychiatrists are also in the room watching Breivik, taking notes and monitoring his gestures.

The gaze, the slight grin, his clench-fisted salute and his words.

It's those words that will be listened to carefully as this trial goes on. And it's those words that will lead to a verdict by the court of two professional judges and three lay judges chosen from civil society.