Mass killer Anders Breivik was caged for 21 years today for slaughtering 77 people in a bomb and gun attack.
The self-styled anti-Muslim militant smiled as a judge declared him sane enough to be held criminally responsible for Norway’s worst peacetime attacks.
Going against the recommendation of prosecutors, who had asked for an insanity ruling, the five-judge panel in the Oslo district court convicted Breivik, of terrorism and premeditated murder.
They imposed a sentence of “preventive detention,” a special prison term for criminals considered dangerous to society. Prosecutors have not said if they would appeal.
The judges set the minimum length of imprisonment to 10 years and the maximum at 21 years, the longest allowed under Norwegian law.
However, such sentences can be extended as long as an inmate is considered too dangerous to be released. Legal experts have said that in Breivik’s case that could mean he will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Peace, at last
Some who lost loved ones in the attacks welcomed the ruling. “Now we won’t hear about him for quite a while. Now we can have peace and quiet,” said Per Balch Soerensen, whose daughter was among those killed in the shooting massacre. “He doesn’t mean anything to me, he is just air.”
A lawyer for some victims and their families said they, too, were satisfied: “I am pleased, although that’s not really the right word, and relieved. This is what we hoped for,” said Mette Yvonne Larsen, who represented some of those affected in court.
“I have already received many messages from clients telling me this is justice served and they are happy it’s over and will never have to see him again.”
Wearing a dark suit and sporting a thin beard, Breivik smirked as he walked in to the courtroom to hear his sentence and raised a clenched-fist salute.
Breivik (33) 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.
During the trial, Breivik said that being sent to an insane asylum would be the worst thing that could happen to him and accused Norwegian authorities of trying to cast him as sick to deflate his political views.
His lawyers say Breivik is already at work writing sequels to the 1,500-page manifesto he released on the Internet before the attacks.
Breivik’s prison stay
Breivik starts each day in Ila Prison with a wholesome early breakfast of porridge or homemade brown bread served with cheese or ham, and a jug of black coffee. The isolated prisoner then spends time exercising at his gym, where he has a treadmill. He enjoys a ‘suite’ of three adjoining 86 sq ft cells — bedroom, gym and a study. He is also provided with room service, including cigarettes and books and DVDs.
Anders Behring Breivik is going to be Norway’s most expensive person in custody ever. The cost of keeping him behind bars at Ila Prison last year has cost NOK 12.5 million (Rs 12 crore). This is equal to the cost of keeping 15 ordinary prisoners in custody. Ila has had to hire one person extra just in order to screen all the letters Breivik received, as part of the security measures.