CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CONNECT THE WORLD

Norwegian Mass Murderer Anders Breivik's Trial Begins; Bolton Player Fabrice Muamba Released From Hospital

Aired April 16, 2012 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight on Connect the World, defiant in the dark (ph). The far right (inaudible) Anders Breivik admits to carrying out a massacre in Norway, but pleads not guilty.

ANNOUNCER: Life from CNN London, this is connect the world with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: A mass media coverage of the Breivik trial is sharply dividing opinion. Tonight, will it give him the opportunity to promote his extremist views or is that platform a human right?

Also this hour, one of the insurgents behind a major Afghanistan assault says he was working for the al Qaeda linked Haqqani Network.

Also tonight...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know anything about the French elections coming up, presidential elections in France?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Bar talk in New York. The news of some French expats less than a week before what is a crucial presidential election.

First up this hour, a clenched first salute, a few smirks and no sign of remorse for his 77 victims. Anders Behring Breivik appeared today defiant as his trial began in Norway. He pleaded not guilty to mass murder and yet he did admit to the crime.

CNN's Diana Magnay was inside the courtroom in Oslo.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After his handcuffs are removed, a salute of sorts from Anders Behring Breivik. Referred to his lengthy manifesto, and you can read what he means by this -- strength, power, and defiance apparently against what he calls Marxist tyrants.

He seemed prepared, composed, a smile flickering on his lips, a smirk even. This killer's every expression beamed via video link to 17 other courthouses across the country where many of the bereaved sat watching.

ANDERS BEHRING BREIVIK, CONFESSED MASS MURDERER (through translator): I acknowledge the act, but I do not plead guilty. And I claim that I was doing it in self-defense.

MAGNAY: As the prosecution read out a roll call of the dead, with a catalog of hideous injuries from which they died, Breivik sat unmoved. Only when he watched his own video manifesto did Breivik force back tears. Moved, it would seem, by the war against Islam his lawyer says he claims he's fighting.

He seemed touched by his own work and his own ideas with the music and the picture of himself in the uniform. It was -- well, we were appalled, the rest of us. But it seemed like he was touched.

The panel of judges, no jury, was shown the difficult, brutal moments. The CCTV footage which lead to this, the minutes ticking down after Breivik parked a car filled with explosives in Oslo's government quarter to the moment it went off.

A phone call to police from a girl in hiding from Brevik on Utoya Island, mortal fear in her voice, as an endless succession of gunshots rang in the background.

Tore Sinding Beddedal, who survived the shooting said he had to take a break as the names of the friends he'd lost were read out.

TORE SINDING BEKKEDAL, UTOYA SURVIVOR: It was a strange feeling of relief that rather surprised me as he went over to -- from listing the dead and over to listing the wounded, it was -- it was an intense gratitude that was -- it took me by surprise that I felt it, that these wonderful people are still among us, that, you know, we managed to save these ones at least.

MAGNAY: And for those who were saved, some relief apparently that Breivik seemed nothing like the sadistic monster they remember.

METTE YVONNE LARSEN, TRIAL PARTICIPANT (through translator): People today are fairly pleased of having seen him as he's actually a very small man, very light voice. I don't want to comment on the way he was crying, but nobody believes that he was crying because of the victims.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MAGNAY: Now Breivik will have his opportunity to speak starting on Tuesday. He'll have five days to give his testimony. Apparently he has made a request into the judge to start that process with a 30 minute speech that he has prepared for in prison. The judge will rule on Tuesday morning whether to give him that opportunity. She has already ruled that none of that testimony will be televised.

ANDERSON: Diana, a big question in this trial is the issue of Breivik's sanity, of course. He said that being labeled insane would be, and I quote, "a fate worse than death." What else can you tell us about him? And what should we expect to hear from him during this trial?

MAGNAY: Well, really the reason he doesn't want to be considered insane is because he classifies himself as a political activist, that this was a political act in a war that he believes he's fighting against Islam in Europe. And I think that that really is the thrust of what we're going to hear of the next five days, a sort of condensed version of this manifesto that he sent out to people on the morning of the attacks which outlines this extremist ideology that he has really been developing over the past five years while he was living at home with his mother doing nothing really other than writing this manifesto and playing World of Warcraft video games, Becky.

ANDERSON: Diana Magnay is in Oslo for you tonight. Well, the Oslo district court. Thanks, Diana.

Has given position for the pool broadcaster of Norway to relay most of the opening of the trial, but it won't allow it to show the upcoming testimony by Breivik or by the victims. One way or another, especially given social media, though, the information of course will get out. Some people not happy with that. Consider just a few of the comments that we pulled from Twitter for you.

From Matthew, "dear media, stop showing blanket coverage of Breivik and giving him an even larger platform to spout his hateful views."

Dan says, "it will be a great sign of Norway's civilized maturity if Breivik has his platform is heard, disagreed with, and justice proceeds."

Well, media coverage is indeed important in the consideration of this case. And as Breivik himself has said the trial is the perfect opportunity to showcase his beliefs.

Let's hear more now from both sides of the debate. We're joined by human rights lawyer Mark McDonald and Christin Bjelland whose daughter survived Breivik's shooting spree in Utoya island.

Mark, let's start with you. He is entitled, of course, to a fair trial, isn't he?

MARK MCDONALD, HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: He's very much entitled to a fair trial. And when we talk about human rights, of course, human rights is to have a fair trial, a human right is to be able to challenge those witnesses that are going to give evidence against you, a human right is to be represented and to have an impartial jury.

It is not a human right, though, to have your trial publicized, to have it shown on television. That may actually have a public interest element to it, which of course different from human rights.

ANDERSON: Christin, I don't think you'll disagree with what Mark says. And I know that you hope this trial will establish a dignified tone for the rest of the proceedings which can't be easy given what you've been through.

CHRISTIN BJELLAND, DAUGHTER SURVIVED ATTACK: Absolutely. We do hope that he will have a fair trial and a dignified one. The atmosphere here today have been really good. And the judges have done their job in a very proper way, we think. And although he has a right as a defendant to have an explanation for his actions, there is a very big difference between an explanation and propaganda.

ANDERSON: I wonder, Christin, whether you are then satisfied with what happened today. Because we know that the international media, including the domestic Norwegian media who are pool (ph) as it's known, for the broadcast across the media world have decided that his narrative, at least, won't be broadcast. And yet we did still see a sign from Breivik today of how he feels and that in his salute as it were.

Are you satisfied that this is, sort of the media coverage of this at least is what you would expect?

BJELLAND: Well, we didn't quite know what to expect, because we've never done this before. His crimes are horrendous. And of course we did expect the massive media attention, but we feel that everybody has conducted themselves in a very polite manner. So even though there have been a lot of people both outside and inside the court, we feel that this has been done with dignity.

ANDERSON: Mark, how do you see the sort of preparations at least for what is going to be an enormous global interest in this trial?

MCDONALD: I think we've got -- I've got personally great concerns about how this is going to play out. Remember, this probably wouldn't be happening in the United States. It certainly wouldn't happen in the United Kingdom. And the reason why is because history tells us, a classic example being the O.J. Simpson trial there -- I know very different from this, but still it was a media circus. And it became a media circus. And the newspapers and the television stations picked upon certain elements already before seeing the two pressing things that happened today was the fascist salute and him crying during his home propaganda video.

This is what is going to be on the front pages of tomorrow's newspapers. And that's a shame, because the real stories, the real questions, what people in Norway I'm sure want to know the answers to is in relation to the investigation won't be reported, or certainly won't be on the front pages, they'll be deep in the back pages of the newspapers.

ANDERSON: Do you share Mark's concerns, Christin?

BJELLAND: Well, yes I do, because I feel what is important here is that emphasis puts on his actions and not his ideas.

ANDERSON: Mark?

MCDONALD: The -- the...

ANDERSON: I'm giving you an opportunity to...

MCDONALD: I'm so sorry -- I mean, the difficulty is, of course, as I said before, this wouldn't have happened in the United States. And it's a ban in the United States for in the federal court so any reporting of criminal trials for the very reason it can become a media circus.

ANDERSON: Let me ask you this, Mark, let me ask you this -- doesn't mass media coverage -- and I'm thinking here about social media coverage, because I'm well aware of what the broadcasters have decided and that is that we won't see his narrative, but does the social media coverage -- and let's be quite honest here, will get everything that we hear in the court across Twitter and various other media. Does it help this killer in Norway promoting far right anti-immigration cause do you think?

MCDONALD: There is a big difference from the 42 characters that one can get on Twitter than a live TV coverage and the playing to the camera. I mean, for example, today what we know is during this trial that he is not allowed to -- we're not allowed to hear the live broadcast of his testimony. And yet today we saw two symbols of the crying and the fascist salute. And so he was allowed to use the media. He was allowed to exploit the situation. And of course that's not going to be reflected in a 42 character tweet.

So I think there's a big difference from television to social media.

ANDERSON: It's 140 characters...

MCDONALD: Oh, I'm so sorry. I didn't -- I'm very sorry.

ANDERSON: There's no worries.

Christin, you know, you are well aware of how the victims of these attacks feel. Your daughter thankfully for you survived Utoya. The victims of the attack are preparing for a trial that's going to be hard and painful.

BJELLAND: Yes, definitely. Well, it was actually my son that survived.

ANDERSON: Oh, I'm sorry.

BJELLAND: But he and all the parents, the bereaved, the survivors, everybody has been preparing very much for this trial. And we feel it in a sense happy that we have started the process, because ever since 22nd of July we've known that this wasn't over. We had to face a trial and a period was a lot of pain. But now we're finally started so that we can finish this chapter in our lives and move on as best we can.

ANDERSON: Mark, you are a human rights lawyer. One would expect you to defend the rights of any man or woman committed or certainly standing trial for any -- any -- any crime that they've committed to a certain extent. How do you think this will set a precedent if at all for cases going forward?

MCDONALD: I don't think it will set a precedent. This is a unique situation. It's a unique situation in Norway. And I don't think there is a precedent. And there won't be anything that will follow this.

There have been developments here in the United Kingdom in relation to media coverage within the courtrooms, but we're very careful. We're very skeptical in the United Kingdom, same way as they are in the United States, same way as they are across Europe in relation to how much should be broadcast and how far an interference the cameras can go into a courtroom.

Can I just say this, the issue here is the public interest. The public interest want questions to be asked. And there's three different audiences really isn't there? There's the audience of the relatives of those that were killed and injured and were there on that terrible day. There's the greater population of Norway that want questions answered. And then there's the international audience who out of interest want to know what's going on.

And there's a public interest, but the most important public interest are probably the relatives and the victims of the awful event. And that could have and should have be maintained and be able to be facilitated by the video link, the live video link to hotels and to other courtrooms where people can watch live what is taking place. You don't need to have a camera being broadcasting across the country and across Europe and across the world as to step by step what's taking place.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. The two of you thank you very much indeed for joining us tonight. Good discussion.

Our top story this evening, day one of the trial of the man accused of carrying out bomb and gun attacks in Norway, attacks which left 77 people dead. The media focus, well it's frankly understandable. I think you'd agree, but there is a fear the focus could feed Breivik's desire for a stage.

This is Connect the World. You're watching CNN live from London with me Becky Anderson.

Still to come, a big new job for President Obama's pick for the World Bank makes its selection.

And Silvio Berlusconi's trial, what one witness is saying about those instruments of bunga buga parties.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: On NATO, Hamid Karzai says the latest coordinated attacks here in Afghanistan were the result of an intelligence failure by NATO. While the (inaudible) points the finger at a terrorist network. An 18 hour assault left four civilians and eight security force members dead in addition to more than 30 insurgents.

Now President Karzai says his Afghan security services proved themselves more than capable of defending the country from terrorism. CNN's Nick Paton-Walsh in embedded with U.S. and Afghan troops.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK PATON-WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We've landed in an incredibly flat, exposed space about a mile away from a village where there are two high value targets the Americans want to arrest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, much more from Nick and whether Afghan troops are up for the job. That's coming up in around 15 minutes time here on CNN.

Meanwhile, a look at some of the other stories connecting our world tonight. And there are concerns Europe's debt crisis is resurfacing after a period of relative calm. The interest rates of Spain has to pay for money soared by 6 percent in early trading on Monday. Now that level is widely viewed as unsustainable. That was the case of Greece, Portugal and Ireland at least. Spain is set to auction 10-year bonds and two-year notes on Thursday.

Meantime, the World Bank has a new president. U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee, the Korean-American physician Jim Jong Kim will be the next chief. He chose Kim over Nigeria's finance minister who insisted the organization needs perspective from the developing world. Kim replaces outgoing president Robert Zoelleck. He served a five year term.

Well, for a picture of Silvio Berlusconi's bunga bunga parties is emerging in court. The former Italian prime minister is on trial for allegedly having sex with an under-aged prostitute then abusing his powers to have her released after she was arrested. Berlusconi denies the charges. Meantime, a model testified that women dressed as nuns stripped for Berlusconi at a 2010 party. She says he gave her money and gifts to persuade her to stay.

We'll take a very short break here on Connect the World. When we come back, another step forward in the recovery of a footballer who suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch. That after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: You're with Connect the World here on CNN. 24 minutes passed 9:00 in London. Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson.

Now almost exactly a month ago, Bolton football player Fabrice Muamba suffered cardiac arrest during a Premier match with Tottenham Hotspur. Now his heart stopped for 78 minutes before doctors could get it to work again. Well, now he thankfully is out of hospital. Don Riddell joins me for more on the recovery of Fabrice Muamba.

Don, given the context of the death of a player in Italy this weekend, this is a really good news story of course.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And we'll talk about the tragedy of the Italian player Pierrmario Morosini in just a moment, but his is just fantastic news for Fabrice Muamba. I mean, I knew people that were out there again last month. And, you know, for several hours people thought that he really had died. And to think that, you know, he's now within a month back out of hospital is just an incredible story.

There's a really, really touching image that we're going to show you, Becky, of Fabrice just before he left hospital with two of the doctors that have been treating him. And the guy on the left is Dr. Andrew Dina (ph). He actually the a Spurs fan at that game. He's a cardiologist. And as soon as it happened, he ran towards the stewards and asked to be led onto the pitch so that he can go on and help. And he obviously has been helping out with his recovery ever since and has played a huge role in his recovery and his survival.

Muama today said I will forever be in the debt of every single member of the London Chest Hospital and rightly so. Those guys have done a fabulous job in getting him fit and well again.

Of course whether or not he is going to play football again is not something that's even being discussed at this point.

ANDERSON: Listen, let's hope he does, because he's a great, great soccer player. I remember watching that game. I've got friends of mine, as you say -- as you have, who were at that match. It was so frightening to watch that going on.

Sadly, this does come in the context of just a couple of days after an Italian footballer died of a cardiac arrest during a match. What's the latest on that, Don?

RIDDELL: Well, this is just a heartbreaking story, you know, no matter which way you look at it. I mean, the thing that's really struck me is that this guy was 25. You know, unlike Muamba, he wasn't lucky. He collapsed and he died.

And his family story is just incredible. His mom and dad died about 10 or 11 years ago, then his disabled brother committed suicide, then he died at the weekend. And the only person left in this family is Morosini's sister. And she's severely disabled. And she had been counting on him to provide financial assistance. And now he's gone. Incredible that within the space of 10 or 11 years four members of this one family could die in completely different circumstances, all of them tragic. And it's, you know, I'm pleased about our report that Udinese, the club with whom Morosini was registered, have today said that they'll look after his sister and provide her with financial assistance for the rest of her life.

The autopsy was conducted today. The results are inconclusive. They're going to have to do more tests. And you know this could be quite a serious case. The doctors involved have said that probably nothing could have saved his life, but we must report that a police car blocked the access to the emergency crews. That car had to be broken into and towed out the way. That policeman, we understand, has now been suspended. And that, of course, is part of the investigation.

But I mean, all in all, just a horrific and really, really sad story.

ANDERSON: Yeah. We watched the game the weekend here in the UK. And everybody wearing a black armband across the board for this guy. I know you and I will be supportive of his sister going forward. I hope our viewers will be too. Don, thank you for that. Tough story there.

Join Don in about an hour for World Sport, of course. You're going to hear from Man United's manager Alex Ferguson in what is an extended sit down interview.

Still to come on Connect the World, a group connected to al Qaeda is linked to Sunday's violence in Afghanistan. With Afghan security forces, finding out if they are really ready to take on the Taliban.

Rival candidates desperately trying to drum up support with just six days to go until the French presidential election.

And African a capella singing. And it may not sound like it has much to do with classical opera. We're going to show you how the two, well they are connected, trust us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: A warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Becky Anderson, these are the latest world news headlines this hour here on CNN.

Anders Behring Breivik began his mass murder trial in Norway with a defiant salute. He admitted killing 77 people last July but pleaded not guilty, saying he was acting in self-defense. Breivik is expected to testify on Tuesday.

New concerns about Afghanistan security after an 18-hour assault on the capital. Militants believed to be from the Haqqani network launched a coordinated attack on Kabul and three other parts of the country on Sunday.

Korean-American physician Jim Yong Kim will be the World Bank's next president. The bank's directors chose President Obama's nominee over Nigeria's finance minister. It was the first challenge to a US nominee in the bank's history

And a witness says women dressed as nuns stripped for former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi at a bunga bunga party. The woman says Berlusconi paid her to stay at the party. He -- Berlusconi, that is, is on trial for allegedly having sex with underage prostitutes. He denies the charges.

Well, the Pentagon says the militant Haqqani network is likely to be behind the latest violent attacks in Afghanistan. Sunday's fighting killed 44 people and injured 65 more. Now, the only surviving attacker says he was, indeed, working for the group and has ties to both al Qaeda and Pakistan. First up, tonight, Nick Paton Walsh in Ghazni for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, more troubling details emerging, and the key one, really, is how similar this attack was to another one six months ago, both targeting embassies and NATO headquarters, both using abandoned construction sites as the base from which to launch their attacks, both taking about 20 hours for Afghan security forces to suppress them. And both probably involving the Haqqani network.

So, many today questioning how that was possible. President Karzai himself saying there should be an investigation into the intelligence failure, and even NATO's possible roll in that.

But the key thing NATO's trying to point out is how successful Afghan security forces were in suppressing the attack. That won't be any comfort to Kabulese who endured 18 hours-worth of explosions, but this really is the question for the future of Afghanistan.

And two days ago, we joined American and Afghan troops on an air assault into a Taliban heartland saw some of these Afghan security forces in action.

WALSH (voice-over): A last stand in a Taliban heartland. Americans and Afghans launch an air assault before dawn into a remote, hostile district of Ghazni they'd not set foot in for six months.

WALSH (on camera): We've landed in an incredibly flat, exposed space about a mile away from a village where there are two high-value targets the Americans want to arrest.

WALSH (voice-over): America's withdrawal is meant to awaken Afghan forces to take over these manhunts. But as they push into the village in search of the Americans' most-wanted local militant, the Afghans seem pretty casual. Some doors stay locked, their prey likely vanishing when they heard helicopters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They hear the birds coming, and they usually flee immediately.

WALSH: But as the Americans search a former weapons cache, they become the targets.

(GUNFIRE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's it at? Where's it at? Where's it at?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no (expletive deleted) clue!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, we got -- behind you!

WALSH: Clearly insurgents are keen to defend this building, or at least attack the Americans as they get near it.

(GUNFIRE)

WALSH: The shots come in close, fired from a distant tree line. The Afghans spring into life, firing a rocket, and then move to flank the insurgents, who keep taking pot shots.

(GUNFIRE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh! They don't like me running!

(JET ENGINE)

WALSH: Warning flares from attack aircraft massing above stop the gunfire, and distant figures, probably women and children, appear, meaning a counterattack is too risky, and the fight over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the one in the white is a child, to be honest with you.

WALSH: But keen warriors make for poor police. Riding motorcycles is illegal, and they have to decide on a punishment. Should they shoot the fuel tank? Perhaps not. They let the tires down.

(MEN SPEAKING ARABIC)

WALSH: And then deliver what is here a rare encounter with Afghanistan's government.

That night, they leave and the Taliban surely return, knowing that without American support, the Afghan state's relevance here slips further into the distance.

WALSH (on camera): Now, the course of these troops really is the key question. They are eager to fight, but as you saw just then, governance and policing is not really their strong point at all.

It's highly unlikely the Americans will go back to that area, and equally unlikely, without their support, that that Afghan army unit will, as well. So, perhaps that part of Ghazni will remain an insurgent stronghold.

But the question really is across the country of Afghan security forces, are they able to step into that multifaceted roll that NATO has, bringing governance, bringing security, but also bringing a sense of law and order to some people at some point? Are they able to step into that role across the country to fulfill something which NATO's struggled itself to do over the past decade, Becky?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, the Afghan president has been weighing in on the question of his security forces being ready to take on the Taliban. CNN's Christiane Amanpour asked Hamid Karzai earlier if he's worried about what will happen after international troops leave Afghanistan. Have a listen to just a little of what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: No, I'm not concerned about that at all. I'm rather very confident that once the international forces leave, that the Afghan forces will be able to defend their country as they demonstrated yesterday, they had the efficiency, the technical capability in terms of neutralizing terrorists. So, that is not my concern.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: You can see Christiane Amanpour's full interview with Hamid Karzai at the top of this hour straight after this show. As the notorious Haqqani network is linked to the latest deadly violence in Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai blames the failure of NATO intelligence for the latest blast and says he's confident Afghan security forces are well-prepared to deal with the local enemy.

That on a day Taliban militants helped nearly 400 prison inmates escape from a prison south of the border in Pakistan. More on the regional instability at cnn.com/international.

Coming up after the break, could Nicolas Sarkozy be a one-term president? With less than a week to go before the first round of the French elections, we gauge the mood on the streets of Paris.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: All right. With just days to go until the first round of the French presidential elections, the race is very much heating up. In a desperate bid to galvanize voters, rival candidates have been staging major rallies.

Now, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande is still leading the polls, but does Nicolas Sarkozy have what it takes to stage a comeback? Jim Bittermann reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If there was an urgency in the air, it was because the beginning of the end is rapidly approaching. With less than a week to go before the first round of France's presidential elections, all 10 official candidates were taking advantage of every minute to make their pitches.

But it was the two leaders who held the most visible rallies in Paris. President Nicolas Sarkozy, who's been running neck-and-neck with his Socialist opponent, repeated a theme he's used before, making it sound as if the ship of state would run onto the rocks if he was not at the helm.

NICOLAS SARKOZY, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): It is the France of Victor Hugo and General De Gaulle. The France which looks to the future. The France which chooses progress. The France which wants to put itself at the service of all humanity. That is your France. Take your destiny in hand.

BITTERMANN: Meanwhile, across town, his rival, Francois Hollande, made an equally passionate appeal for changing the captain on the ship of state.

FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, SOCIALIST PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): I call on you to severely judge the last five years. To judge is legitimate, necessary, and a moral obligation. So many broken promises, so many decisions that were not thought out, behaviors not mastered. So many failures left unrecognized.

BITTERMANN: But the two men are not the only ones in this first round, and what's proving most interesting for the pundits is what's happening on the fringes. On the extreme right, National Front leader Marine Le Pen seems to be pulling President Sarkozy's discourse her way, especially on the issue of immigration, as the president tries to attract her supporters.

And on the extreme left, Jean-Luc Melenchon, a former teacher who represents a coalition of Communists, Trotskyites, and others, is showing unexpected strength. So much so, that he could finish in third place next Sunday, enough to inject his views into the political discourse as Hollande may need his help to beat Sarkozy.

If there was a common theme in all the candidates' pitches, it was to get out the vote. And despite some recent polls that indicate up to a quarter of the French don't intend to cast a ballot next Sunday, at least at the big rallies, electoral passions were running high, and some thought more was at stake than just domestic politics.

MARIO GONZALEZ, HOLLANDE SUPPORTER (through translator): At an international level and at a European level, and it's very important that the left be in power again in France.

MARIE CHRISTINE, SARKOZY SUPPORTER: He is a good president, you know, and we hope that he will be there for a long time. It's important for us international and for France and for Europe.

BITTERMANN (on camera): But the real importance for next Sunday's election is for the two front-runners, who are already engaged in direct combat. It's almost certain that Sarkozy and Hollande will be the two men left standing after next Sunday's vote.

The real battle between the two men is over who's going to come out on top, something that could provide the momentum going forward to the ultimate victory, the run-off elections on May 6th.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Depending on who you speak to, it's the fifth or sixth biggest economy in the world, so it matters to all of us around the world what happens in France. Almost 2 million French citizens also live outside of France. Roughly 2 percent of the country's potential voters are in the United States.

Richard Roth, my colleague, went to a French-themed downtown New York party to find out how much the election matters to those ex-pats.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You want to find out what French people think about the elections, French citizens who also live here in New York City, what better way than to come to an event called French Tuesdays, which is held quite often in cities around the world. French people coming in here to entertain themselves, have a party.

Weeks before the election, we started out immediately -- excuse me, there. We started out immediately asking who do they like and why.

Who do you support, and why?

(LAUGHTER)

ROTH: Well, what is your point of view on this election? I don't mean to be so American direct, here, but what's the --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to know what I'm going to --

ROTH: Yes, what is your assessment? I didn't say who you'd vote for, unless you want to tell us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, right now, it turns a little bit on the security aspects of the election. So, I would maybe vote for someone who can protect France against different acts. We can have --

ROTH: Are you French.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am not French. I'm sorry.

ROTH: You don't mind if I ask you to stay, then?

You're in favor of Sarkozy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe, yes. Yes, yes.

ROTH : You can't say because of your line of work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, because it's French. It's French to don't say who we'll vote.

ROTH: But this is New York. People will --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know.

ROTH: -- point a gun at you to tell us who you'll vote for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so, you're trying to have an answer. Yes, yes, maybe I'm going to vote for Sarkozy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarkozy.

ROTH: Because?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I think he did great for five years, and I think he has -- he can do even better for five more years. So, I think, he'll probably be elected. We'll see.

ROTH: What about Hollande? Is that how you pronounce it? The socialist?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like him a lot, actually. Europe is basically built on that whole system of socialism, so it can't be wrong.

ROTH: Do you know anything about the French elections coming up? Presidential elections in France?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

ROTH: Do you know who's running in the French presidential elections.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry, I don't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you need some help?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do. I do need some help in --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So, men are -- Sarkozy, Nicolas Sarkozy, he's the current president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Francois Hollande. So, Sarkozy more the right side, and Francois more Hollande more the left side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the left side.

ROTH: Give me your quick analysis. Sarkozy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best one.

ROTH: Hollande.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's less.

ROTH: Le Pen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For me, politics is all the time the same, so --

ROTH: No interest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

ROTH: Presidential elections in France. Are any of the men here talking to you about it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, no. I'm not that much interested in politics, sorry.

ROTH: What are you interested in?

Are the French talking about the elections, those living in New York?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not really.

ROTH: Because?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they live here, they are more interested into with the American elections, I think, which is their daily concern.

ROTH: Well, this was not exactly Paris along the Hudson River. It's a party that's just getting started. And many people didn't really have a decision yet on who their candidate is. They have a little bit of time. Perhaps all the drinks and the atmosphere will help them decide.

Richard Roth, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Let me tell you, eight out of the current ten candidates will be eliminated from the first round vote, that is this Sunday. CNN, of course, will be bringing you all the key results as they come in. I'll be live with our special coverage from 6:30 London time, that's 7:30 in central Europe. Do join us for that.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London. When we come back, an opera singer heads to South Africa to learn a new style of singing. Find out what happens when opera meets African a cappella. That's next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(AFRICAN DRUMS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, they are all experts in their fields, and now they are traveling across the world to find new inspiration. In our special series, Fusion Journeys, we meet those at the top of their careers who know it's never too late to learn from others.

Well, tonight, award-winning opera singer Thomas Hampson gets ready to swap opera houses for a lesson -- well, in this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MAN SINGING OPERA)

THOMAS HAMPSON, OPERA SINGER: My name is Thomas Hampson. I'm a classical musician. Easier said: an opera singer.

I'm not sure that it was something I chose, but more I felt like it chose me. The discipline of singing, the excellence of it that's so important, that is like the Olympics of what one does.

I'm very, very lucky to be asked to be passionately committed to that which I am passionately committed. And as a musician, that's a great privilege.

(MAN DOING VOCAL EXERCISES)

HAMPSON: The good thing about opera is that we're given everything by the composer. Every breath I take, every expression I have, is within a context that is a musical language.

Messed that up, too. That was a bad Italian menu the other day.

By the time I actually walk on stage, I'm -- I hope to be in that zone. I don't feel like I'm walking onto a stage, I feel like I'm walking into that place I'm supposed to be.

So, it's not like I'm standing in the wings going, "Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God." And somebody pushes me and I'm out there.

(MAN SINGING OPERA)

HAMPSON: At the root of it, it's storytelling.

(MAN SINGING OPERA)

HAMPSON: And that's what I passionately enjoy.

So, for my journey, I'm off to Durban, South Africa, where I've never been, and working with the extraordinary musical group called Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which I think we all know first and foremost because of their work with Paul Simon's "Graceland."

(LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO SINGING)

HAMPSON: And these guys are so incredible, just knowing something about these gentlemen and where they're from and why they sing, I think we're going to have a great meeting of hearts and souls.

But of course, as an opera singer, I've now sung in 11 or 12 languages, and how many people get to say that they've sung in Zulu?

(LAUGHTER)

HAMPSON: And after we do this, I will have been there. I will have sung these songs in this strange language -- strange meaning (inaudible) -- with these extraordinary gentlemen whose mission statement, the end, says "to spread the idea of compassion, peace, harmony, love, spiritual essence of human nature." No-brainer. I loved these guys before I get there.

(LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO SINGING)

(JET ENGINE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: And on Wednesday, the journey continues. Find out whether it is possible for classically-trained Thomas to find some South African soul. And there's a lot more about our special series, Fusion Journeys, on the website, cnn.com, including the chance to send us photos of a journey abroad that has inspired you, your busman's holiday. Send in your thoughts.

I'm Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. The world news headlines up after this short break. Stay with us.

END