Court Finds Breivik Sane, Sentences Him to 21 Years


Oslo Cathedral

Oslo Cathedral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Norwegian court has found mass killer Anders Behring Breivik sane and sentenced him to 21 years in jail.


Breivik had never maintained his innocence and, from the beginning, admitted killing 77 people and wounding more that 240 others when he bombed central Oslo and then opened fire at an island youth camp last year.

Whilst prosecutors had called for him to be considered insane, Breivik insisted he was sane and refused to plead guilty, justifying his attacks by saying they were necessary to stop the “Islamization” of Norway. Before the verdict, Breivik said that psychiatric care would be “worse that death.”

He had previously called on the court to either let him go or give him the death penalty, thus making him a martyr for his cause.

The five judges were unanimous in the ruling and Breivik was convicted of terrorism and premeditated murder. He received the maximum sentence of 21 years’ imprisonment which can, however, be prolonged at a later date if he is deemed to remain a danger to society.

Survivors of the attacks and relatives of the dead reacted with relief as Judge Wenche Arntzen read the verdict and imposed sentence. The mother of one 16-year-old girl Breivik shot dead on Utoeya island said that she felt “a little happiness” at the fact he was found to be sane. She, however, said she wished he could be sentenced to 21 years in prison for each of the 77 lives he took.

In delivering the verdict, the Judge imposed a sentence of “preventive detention,” a special prison term for criminals considered dangerous to society. She also set the minimum length of imprisonment to 10 years and took into account the 45 days already spend in custody.

Court-appointed psychiatrists disagreed on Breivik’s sanity. A first team found him to be a paranoid schizophrenic, but a second team found him to be sane. They based their decision on the fact that Breivik carried out the meticulously planned attach on 22 July 2011, wearing a fake police uniform, and methodically hunted down his victims.

Breivik, 33, accused the governing Labour Party of promoting multiculturalism and endangering the identity of Norway.

Some victims at the youth camp on Utoeya island were shot in the head at point-blank range.

Ahead of the verdict, security barriers were put up outside the district court in Oslo. A glass partition separated Breivik from the relatives in a courtroom custom-built  for the trial.

The trial, which began in March and lasted 10 weeks, heard graphic testimony from some of the survivors of the attacks.

Mohamad Hadi Hamed, 21, told the court how his left arm and left leg were amputated after he was shot. Another survivor described how he was trying to escape when he heard a loud bang, followed by a loud beeping noise in his head.

Whilst some of the survivors and relatives welcomed the verdict at the end of the trial, others said that Breivik had for some time been irrelevant to them, and the the outcome of the trial could never bring their loved ones back. Per Balch Soerensen, whose daughter was among those killed in the shooting, told Denmark’s TV2:

“He doesn’t mean anything to me; he is just air.”

Experts in far-right ideology told the trial that Breivik’s ideas should not be seen as the ramblings of a madman and his attacks have ignited a debate about the nature of tolerance and democracy in Norway.

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