Mass killer Breivik salutes court's sanity ruling as he's jailed for 21 years

Norwegian who murdered 77 - most of them teenagers - wanted verdict to declare him sane. Judges oblige, and deliver maximum sentence

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 August, 2012, 2:52am


Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik gave a smirk of triumph and a clench-fisted salute yesterday as he was declared sane enough to answer for the murder of 77 people last year and jailed for 21 years - the maximum term possible.

The 33-year-old had tried to justify gunning down dozens of teenagers at a summer camp and blowing up a government building as a service to a nation threatened by immigration.

He had said acquittal or death would be the only worthy outcomes. But throughout the trial his biggest concern was being declared insane - which he said would be the one verdict he would appeal. Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen dismissed a call by the prosecution to label Breivik mad, a ruling that would have seen him confined indefinitely to psychiatric care rather than prison. She headed a panel of five judges, two professional and three lay, who all agreed on the verdict.

While Norway has a maximum prison sentence of 21 years, Breivik could be sentenced to "preventive detention", which can be extended for as long as an inmate is considered dangerous.

Most survivors of the slaughter at the Labour party youth camp on Utoeya island last July 22 had also been keen to avoid the insanity verdict that would have triggered lengthy and traumatic appeal hearings.

"He is getting what he deserves," said Alexandra Peltre, 18, whom Breivik shot in the thigh. "This is karma striking back at him. I do not care if he is insane or not, as long as he gets the punishment that he deserves."

"I am very relieved and happy about the outcome," said Tore Sinding Bekkedal, who survived the Utoeya shooting. "I believe he is mad, but it is political madness and not psychiatric madness," he added. "He is a pathetic and sad little person."

Breivik, who had surrendered to police on the island without a fight, admitted attacking the Oslo government headquarters with a fertiliser bomb, killing eight, before shooting 69 people, mostly teenagers, at the ruling party's youth camp. Some 34 of the victims were aged 14 to 17.

Dressed in a black suit and still sporting the under-chin beard familiar from the 10 weeks of hearings that ended in June, Breivik smirked when he entered the courtroom and gave his now familiar, far-right salute when his handcuffs were removed. He smiled again as the judge read out the verdict.

He will not appeal, according to his lawyer Geir Lippestad, who said: "He told me he will accept this verdict."

Breivik will be kept in isolation at Ila Prison on the outskirts of Oslo inside relatively spacious quarters that include an exercise room, a computer and TV.

While Breivik justified his killing spree by arguing that the centre-left Labour party was deliberately destroying the nation by encouraging Muslim immigration, his views drew little support from even the most extreme right-wing fringe groups.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg, The Guardian, Agence France-Presse