News Column

Norwegian Mass Murderer Breivik Sentenced to 21 Years

Aug 24, 2012

Lennart Simonsson, dpa

A Norwegian court on Friday ruled that mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik was sane and sentenced him to a maximum term of 21 years for killing 77 people in bomb and shooting attacks last year.

Breivik was to be held in "preventive detention," the Oslo District Court said, citing that he would remain "a very dangerous man" even after serving out his sentence.

His detention could be extended indefinitely if he is deemed a threat to society. Presiding judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen said the verdict by the five-judge bench was unanimous.

Breivik had wanted a sane verdict. He said he carried out the bombing in Oslo and a shooting spree at a Labour Party youth camp on the nearby island of Utoya to protect Norway from an influx of Muslim immigrants.

He said he would not appeal the ruling, when asked by Arntzen.

"I don't recognize the court ... the sentence is in my view illegitimate. If I appeal I legitimize the court," he said.

The anti-Muslim gunman, who carried out the worst attacks in Norway since World War II, smirked when Arntzen began to read out the 106-page ruling, stating he was sane and responsible for his actions.

Asked if Breivik was pleased with the ruling, defence attorney Geir Lippstad said, "Yes and no."

"This is one of the toughest sentences handed down by a Norwegian court so from that point of view it was hard to say yes, but on the other hand he is satisfied that he was ruled accountable," Lippestad told reporters after the court adjourned.

Prosecutors said they will not appeal the verdict although they had in their closing statement in June asked for Breivik to be declared insane.

Of the decision not to appeal, prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh said: "We have considered this carefully with the director of public prosecutions and reached the decision that out of consideration to the bereaved and society we have to draw a line here."

The court made a different assessment than we did, she added.

Survivors of the attacks welcomed the verdict, as did the bereaved.

"This was the verdict that I had hoped for," Tore Sinding Bekkedal, who hid in a bathroom during the attack, told news agency NTB.

Mette Yvonne Larsen, a lawyer for victims and their families, said: "The court took a brave and independent decision."

Adrian Pracon, another survivor, told TV2 news that the sentence "was a great relief ... I want to move on, and this is a first step."

Youth wing leader Eskil Pedersen, told reporters: "Today he was sentenced and we are reminded that it is a person who is responsible for this.

"It was a political attack. A man tried to destroy a generation of youth wing politicians, he hit us hard, but couldn't defeat us."

The 33-year-old right-wing extremist was expected to serve his sentence at the Ila prison near Oslo, where he has been held for more than a year and where he will serve his sentence in a three-cell facility.

He will be denied contact with other inmates but allowed a daily walk outside. One of the cells has a computer that is not connected to the internet and another has a treadmill.

Breivik had pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism and premeditated murder. The question of his sanity had been central to the 10-week trial.

The massacre on July 22, 2011, shocked Norway's largely liberal society and sparked a national debate about right-wing extremism, freedom of speech and immigration.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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