Skip to comments.Justice, Norwegian style: Breivik gets 10-to-21 years for killing 77 people
Posted on 08/24/2012 6:03:19 PM PDT by Signalman
OSLO, Norway - A Norwegian court sentenced Anders Behring Breivik to prison on Friday, denying prosecutors the insanity ruling they hoped would show that his massacre of 77 people was the work of a madman, not part of an anti-Muslim crusade.
Breivik smiled with apparent satisfaction when Judge Wenche Elisabeth Arntzen read the ruling, declaring him sane enough to be held criminally responsible and sentencing him to "preventive detention," which means it is unlikely he will ever be released.
The sentence brings a form of closure to Norway, which was shaken to its core by the bomb and gun attacks on July 22, 2011, because Breivik's lawyers said before the ruling that he would not appeal any ruling that did not declare him insane.
But it also means Breivik got what he wanted: a ruling that paints him as a political terrorist instead of a psychotic mass murderer. Since his arrest, Breivik has said the attacks were meant to draw attention to his extreme right-wing ideology and to inspire a multi-decade uprising by "militant nationalists" across Europe.
Prosecutors had argued Breivik was insane as he plotted his attacks to draw attention to a rambling "manifesto" that blamed Muslim immigration for the disintegration of European society.
Breivik argued that authorities were trying to cast him as sick to cast doubt on his political views, and said during the trial that being sent to an insane asylum would be the worst thing that could happen to him.
"He has always seen himself as sane so he isn't surprised by the ruling," Breivik's defense lawyer Geir Lippestad said.
The five-judge panel in the Oslo district court unanimously convicted Breivik, 33, of terrorism and premeditated murder and ordered him imprisoned for a period between 10 and 21 years, the maximum allowed under Norwegian law. Such sentences can be extended as long as an inmate is considered too dangerous to be released, and legal experts say Breivik will almost certainly spend the rest of his life in prison.
Some far right leaders argued that Friday's verdict played into their core beliefs, though they have spoken out against his violent rampage.
"It was obviously wrong what he did, but there was logic to all of it," said Stephen Lennon, the 29-year-old leader of the English Defense League. "By saying that he was sane, it gives a certain credibility to what he had been saying. And that is, that Islam is a threat to Europe and to the world."
It was not clear whether prosecutors would appeal the ruling. If not, and if Breivik sticks to his word not to appeal a prison term, the legal process for one of the darkest chapters in Norwegian history will have come to a close.
Survivors of the attacks and relatives of victims welcomed the ruling.
"I am very relieved and happy about the outcome," said Tore Sinding Bekkedal, who survived the Utoya shooting.
"I believe he is mad, but it is political madness and not psychiatric madness," Bekkedal said. "He is a pathetic and sad little person."
Per Anders Langerod, another shooting survivor, said he would like to visit Breivik in prison "and yell at him for 15 minutes."
"I don't want to hurt him because I have a problem with violence, now more than ever," Langerod told the AP. "But I want to yell at him. I want to explain to him what kind of egomaniac mass murderer he is and how he has affected so many people so terribly."
Wearing a dark suit and sporting a thin beard, Breivik smirked as he walked into the courtroom to hear his sentence, and raised a clenched-fist salute.
Breivik confessed to the attacks during the trial, describing in gruesome detail how he detonated a car bomb at the government headquarters in Oslo and then opened fire at the annual summer camp of the governing Labor Party's youth wing. Eight people were killed and more than 200 injured by the explosion. Sixty-nine people, most of them teenagers, were killed in the shooting spree on Utoya island. The youngest victim was 14.
In testimony that stunned relatives of his victims, Breivik said he was acting in defense of Norway by targeting the left-wing political party he accused of betraying the country with liberal immigration policies.
Breivik's lawyers say he is already at work writing sequels to the 1,500-page manifesto he released on the Internet before the attacks. Breivik most likely will be sent back to Ila Prison, where he has been held in pretrial detention. He has access to a computer there but no Internet connection. He can communicate with the outside world through mail, which is checked by prison staff.
They can stop mail encouraging illegal acts or the creation of criminal networks, Ila Prison spokeswoman Ellen Bjercke said.
The impact of Breivik's violence has been huge. It has forced Norway to accept that terror doesn't come only in the guise of foreign fundamentalists, but can come from one of their own. The son of a Norwegian diplomat and a nurse who divorced when he was a child, Breivik had been a law-abiding citizen until the attacks, except for a brief spell of spray-painting graffiti during his youth.
The judges noted that Breivik's extreme anti-immigration views are shared by others, but said it found no evidence that the modern-day crusader network that Breivik claims to belong exists.
Norwegian police and government ministers have faced severe criticism for their actions before and during the attacks. The police response was marred by poor communication and technical mishaps. It took police more than an hour to reach Utoya, as a boat carrying the SWAT team was overloaded and stalled in the middle of the lake. Norway's only police helicopter wasn't used because its crew was on vacation.
Norway's justice minister and police chief both resigned in the aftermath and some critics have called on the prime minister to step down.
The judges took turns reading sections of the 90-page ruling, starting with the verdict and sentence, and then going over a chronology of the rampage, victim by victim, and describing their injuries.
Judge Arne Lyng noted that the fertilizer bomb that Breivik set off outside the government headquarters could have been even more devastating.
"It was pure luck that not many more were killed," Lyng said.
Since his guilt was not in question, Breivik's sanity was the key issue to be decided by the trial, with two psychiatric teams reaching opposite conclusions. One gave Breivik a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, a severe mental illness that would preclude imprisonment, while the other found him narcissistic and dissocial - having a complete disregard for others - but criminally sane.
The court criticized the psychiatric assessment that found Breivik insane, saying his perception of being a commander in a civil war can be explained in the context of a "fanatic and right-wing extremist view of the world" rather than as delusions of a sick mind.
It also found his controlled behavior while planning and carrying out his complex plot "difficult to reconcile with an untreated form of paranoid schizophrenia."
Golly Norway, aren't you being a little too rough on the guy?
This way the parents of the victims will still be alive when he gets out at which time the death penalty comes into play.
Sad that a country’s judicial system has gone so liberal that this sentence could happen.
Unbelievable...this is justice in America if we continue on this way...
The ROP will go through that country like a knife through hot butter.
I can't imagine how the survivors, and the victims' families feel about this.
So if my calculations are correct, that 2.5 months in jail for each person killed.
15 years / 77 = .19 years each (or .20 or 1/5th of a year)
12/5 = 2.5 months
yeh, real nice.
So what is that? Four, five months per murdered human being? Just wow.
All of this was foreseen by C.S. Lewis back in the 1930s, when he wrote:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber barons cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be cured against ones will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals."
As Lewis argued, both the society at large and even the criminal himself deserve the dignity of just punishment for evil acts. The failure to assess just punishment "stings with intolerable insult" to everyone, and is toxic to any society.
That is the maximum possible sentence under their judicial system. There is no “life without parole”.
This is typical of western Europe.
Charles Manson could have been out for 22 years now. I’m sure as a solid citizen.
Lets see, with time already served and time off for good behavior he should get out in what 2 maybe 3 years?
Beats 30 days/ea.
Something like 99 days per victim?
I’m against European “justice”, too, but if you read the article, you’ll see that this bozo will likely never leave prison. The Norwegian system permits his sentence to be extended indefinitely. Of course, I don’t think that anything other than the death penalty is true justice in this case.
This is the way Norway is, I have been there, great people, and I guess they are happy with their legal system. I personally think this is the worst crime I’ve ever heard of, and I certainly hope he is in jail for life.