A Norwegian court has found Anders Behring Breivik sane in the murder of 77 people in a gun and bomb massacre last year, sending him to jail for at least 21 years and dismissing the prosecution’s request for an insane verdict.
Breivik, who has admitted detonating a fertilizer bomb outside government headquarters, killing eight, before shooting
69 at the ruling party’s summer youth camp, faces the possibility of indefinite extensions to his sentence that was handed down on Friday.
Many survivors and families of the victims wanted a sane verdict, saying the opposite would diminish his responsibility for the attacks.
Breivik said he targeted the ruling centre-left Labour Party for its support of Muslim immigration. He dismissed being called a child murderer, arguing that his victims, some as young as 14, were brainwashed activists whose support for multiculturalism threatened to adulterate pure Norwegian blood.
Breivik himself had argued for the sane verdict as he wanted the attack to be seen as a political statement.
Guilt has never been a question in the trial as Breivik described in chilling detail how he hunted down his victims,
some as young as 14, with a shot to the body then one or more bullets to the head.
The killings shook this nation of five million people which had prided itself as a safe haven from much of the world’s troubles, raising questions about the prevalence of far right views as immigration rises.
The trial and a commission of investigation into the country’s worst violence since World War II have kept Breivik
on the front pages for the past 13 months and survivors said the verdict would finally bring some closure.
“It has been a tough year … but I don’t want to be Utoeya-Nicoline for the rest of my life,” said Nicoline Bjerge
Schie, a survivor of the shooting.
Whatever the five judges decide, Breivik will be locked up in solitary confinement inside the maximum security Ila prison on the outskirts of Oslo.
Although the maximum sentence is 21 years, prisoners can be held indefinitely if deemed dangerous and few believe anyone would ever sign Breivik’s release papers.
Question of sanity
If Breivik was declared insane, he would have faced a regime of indefinite mental treatments inside a one-man mental ward set up for him in the prison and would come up for review every three years.
One team of court appointed psychiatrists concluded he was psychotic while another came to the opposite conclusion.
To make the ruling more difficult, several other experts who testified described a series of mental conditions Breivik suffered from.
Still, polls show that about 70 percent of Norwegians think such a well-planned attack could not have been the work of a madman and Breivik must take responsibility rather than be dismissed as merely deranged.
If Breivik appeals, he will be granted a new, possibly even longer trial sometime in January.