HE survived the murderous gun rampage of Anders Breivik – but Viljar Hanssen could still become the fascist monster’s next victim at any moment.
Viljar, then 17, lay defenceless on the ground as he was blasted in the head during the 2011 island killing spree that left 77 dead.
A tiny piece of the bullet remains so closely lodged to his brain stem that just one knock on the head could end his life.
But he refuses to be a victim.
Viljar faced Breivik in court and is now working to oppose right-wing extremists in his country.
The remarkable story of how Viljar survived the massacre — during a Workers’ Youth League summer camp on the Norwegian island of Utoya — is being re-told in a new movie by Bourne director Paul Greengrass.
It is called 22 July, after the date of Norway’s most deadly day of terrorism, and focuses more on the courage of Viljar and other young survivors than it does on the killer.
Breivik, pictured in court, a twisted loner, had convinced himself that the way to oppose Islam in the Scandinavian country was to kill unarmed civilians[/caption]
Viljar, 25, who is up for election as a councillor in Tromso, northern Norway, says: “Through me they are telling the story of all the people who were on Utoya. It is an important film.
“I am glad that Breivik isn’t told too easy as a villain and a monster. It is good that you could see he represents right-wing extremism and he is not alone.
“Paul Greengrass got it very right. The point is that right-wing extremism is with us in Europe.”
22 July, which is on Netflix and in cinemas, serves as a reminder of the dangers posed by white supremacists such as Breivik. It comes at a time when far-right parties are securing record support in nations including Norway’s neighbour Sweden.
Breivik’s first target that day was government offices in the capital, Oslo. He murdered eight people by planting a bomb in a van outside[/caption]
Greengrass says: “You have to explore how Breivik was defeated. He was given due process, he was defeated in a court of law, he was faced down by young people — that’s the story.”
Breivik, a twisted loner, had convinced himself that the way to oppose Islam in the Scandinavian country was to kill unarmed civilians.
His first target that day was government offices in the capital, Oslo. He murdered eight people by planting a bomb in a van outside.
Breivik then drove 25 miles to a lake where the ruling Labour Party’s youth league were camping on Utoya.
After the attack in Oslo, Breivik drove 25 miles to a lake where the ruling Labour Party’s youth league were camping on Utoya Island[/caption]
Dressed as a police officer, he called the innocents to a meeting before opening fire on them.
The youngest of those 69 victims was 14, and many were shot in the back while running away or pretending to be dead.
Viljar’s main concern was to protect the life of his brother Torje, who was 14. They scrambled down a cliff, not quite out of the view of Breivik.
When he started shooting from above, the brothers ran across the shore and Viljar was hit five times — in the leg, body, head and hand. Torje tried to help his brother, who insisted he should save himself.
Dressed as a police officer, he called the innocents to a meeting before opening fire on them – murdering 69 on the island[/caption]
Viljar, though, had decided “death was not an option” and thought instead about the joys of life he did not want to leave.
Barely conscious and unable to move, he examined the wound to the right side of his skull with his hand and was horrified to find he could feel the brain inside.
Once police arrived, Breivik gave himself up and rescuers helped 110 injured survivors to safety including Viljar, who underwent a life-saving operation.
A surgeon removed most of the bullet fragments from the boy’s brain but a couple were so close to the stem it was too risky to reach them.
Viljar’s parents braced themselves for the worst, yet he woke from a coma after six days able to talk.
He had lost the sight in one eye and three fingers, and had to learn how to walk and write again.
His injury means heading a football or falling could be fatal.
More devastating, he lost his best friends Anders Kristiansen, 18, and Simon Saebo, 18, who were shot by Breivik. Everyone who was on Utoya that day lost someone, and Viljar says: “The character is supposed to be me in the film, but it is representative of many victims.”
Another survivor the film focuses on is Lara Rashid, 17, a Kurdish refugee who fled from war in Iraq only to have her 18-year-old sister, Bano, murdered by Breivik.
The remarkable story of how Viljar survived the massacre — during a Workers’ Youth League summer camp on the Norwegian island of Utoya — is being re-told in new movie 22 July[/caption]
For Viljar, the mental scars remain, even though the ones on his face have faded.
When he gave an impact statement during Breivik’s trial for mass murder and terrorism in 2012, Viljar told how he suffered from anxiety and had been too scared to attend a later youth league event.
For that reason, it was a brave decision for him to face down Breivik in court.
He even managed to bring laughter to proceedings, joking: “I lost this eye, but that’s useful. It means I don’t have to look over there,” nodding at his attacker.
The testimonies of Viljar, Lara and other survivors were important because Breivik had pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges on the grounds that his views meant he needed to kill his victims.
Their humane accounts put the unremorseful murderer to shame.
British director Greengrass used court transcripts of the trial so actors in his film could deliver the exact words said by both Breivik and the survivors in court.
When he first read the killer’s words, he was shocked.
He said: “I came in the office one day and read his testimony in court — some of which is in the film. It was absolutely chilling.
“There is nothing about his world view or his arguments or his rhetoric that a mainstream populist right-wing politician does not espouse. That’s when I thought, ‘I need to make this film.’” Breivik, now 39, was given the maximum sentence available in Norway, which is 21 years in solitary confinement.
His time in prison can be extended if he is ruled to be a continued threat.
While the survivors have quietly got on with rebuilding their lives, Breivik has whined loudly about his misfortune.
Two years ago he won a human rights case, arguing that it was inhumane for him to be kept in a cell alone. But the verdict was later overturned.
The killer is currently taking a political science degree by correspondence from his cell.
Viljar is himself studying politics but his purpose his very different. He aims to help society through peaceful, democratic means as a Labour councillor
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He says: “What happened didn’t change my politics.
“I always felt openness and social democracy was important. I still believe strongly that immigrants should feel welcomed in Norway.”
Viljar tends to stay out of the limelight and the new film is based on a book about the killings called One Of Us, by Asne Seierstad, rather than anything from him.
Occasionally, he will post updates on his Facebook page.
And he declares: “Every day, when I manage to not opt out of something because of what has happened, then that day is a victory. And I win almost every day.”