10 weeks on, Norway opens massacre island

Utoya, where Norway's mass murderer Anders Breivik massacred 69 people at a youth camp, has been reopened to the media

Norway opened the island of Utoya to journalists yesterday for the first time since confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik massacred 69 people at a youth camp in July, with the ruling Labour Party vowing to ensure its idyllic retreat transcends tragedy.

Trying to put the past behind: Journalists gathered at Utoya for a visit of
the island where over 60 people were killed.

Police closed the island after the July 22 attacks in which Breivik also set off a car bomb outside the prime minister's office in central Oslo, killing eight people.

More than 150 journalists and photographers had participated in yesterday's visit to Utoya, a popular recreational center owned by the ruling Labour Party, which traditionally uses it for its youth wing's summer retreats.

Organisers said that they would gradually open the island to the public but will request that visitors respect it as the site of the killings.

In August, about 1,000 survivors and relatives travelled to Utoya, accompanied by police and medical staff, to face the painful memories of the shootings.

Donors have pledged more than $5.5 million (32 million kroner) to renovate the island, dotted with camping grounds, football fields and basketball courts, said Eskil Pedersen, leader of the Labour Party's youth organisation.

"The island means very much to many people. No island in Norway has formed the political landscape more than Utoya," Pedersen said. "We have the clear aim to return to Utoya." He said that youth camps would resume on the island, but a decision had not yet been taken on when that would be. The party also plans a commemorative monument on the island.

Adrian Pracon, a 21-year-old survivor says that reopening the island is important so that "people understand what happened there."

Breivik has confessed to the attacks but denies criminal guilt, saying he's in a state of war and believes the massacre was necessary to save Norway and Europe from being overrun by Muslim immigrants. He has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest.

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