Norway Killer Declared Sane, Sentenced to 21 Years in Prison

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Anders Behring Breivik gestures as he arrives at the courtroom in the Oslo Courthouse on Aug. 24, 2012

An Oslo court sentenced Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing extremist who admitted to killing 77 people in a bomb attack and shooting spree last July, to 21 years in prison — the maximum sentence available under Norwegian law.

The decision came after a panel of five judges unanimously declared the 33-year-old sane, and therefore legally responsible, at the time he committed the massacre, Norway‘s worst since the World War II.

Breivik has repeatedly said that the attacks were necessary to stop the “Islamization” of Norway. He gave a clench-fisted salute shortly after he entered the courtroom and smiled as the judges delivered their ruling. Breivik had previously stated that he wanted to be spared the “humiliation” of being declared a madman and had described potential psychiatric treatment as a sentence “worse than death.”

(MORE: What Breivik Can Expect Inside Norway’s Prison System)

The 10-week trial departed from the classic script. In an apparent reversal of roles, the prosecution argued that the man who gunned down teenagers attending a youth summer camp was insane and that he should serve time in a hospital rather than a prison. The defense team argued that he knew exactly what he was doing and was in complete control of his actions.

During the trial, psychiatrists seemed equally divided. An initial assessment by psychiatrists resulted in a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. But following public outcry, a second team of psychiatrists found that the self-described “Nordic warrior” was not psychotic.

The victims’ families will likely welcome the sanity ruling. Throughout the trial, which ended in June, relatives of the deceased spoke out and said they wanted Breivik to be held accountable for his actions. That mirrors a poll published by Norway’s Verdens Gang newspaper this morning, which found that 72% of Norwegians believe Breivik should be deemed sane.

(PHOTOS: Anders Behring Breivik: The Extremist Behind Norway’s Tragedy)

Breivik’s 21-year sentence for terrorism and premeditated murder seems light to casual observers outside Norway. The country does not have a death penalty or give life sentences, and its progressive criminal-justice system emphasizes rehabilitation over retribution, even for the most serious offenders. An inmate’s punishment, the thinking goes, is being separated from society and living one’s life in confinement. Harsher measures, it’s thought, do little to benefit anyone, particularly the society to which the criminals will eventually return. Breivik currently splits his time among three cells: one for exercise, one for sleeping and one for working and writing.

The relative creature comforts and the 21-year sentence do not change the fact that Breivik may never walk free again. Authorities can extend his sentence indefinitely if they feel he remains a threat to society. To help with that assessment, Breivik will have his sentence and progress reviewed every two years after completing a decade in jail. “[After 21 years] they might at that time see that things have changed, that he has changed, and that it’s not necessary after 30 years, 40 years, 50 years, to keep him in jail,” lawyer Frode Sulland told the BBC after the verdict was announced. “But none of us can ever know about that. We’ll just have to see. But as things looked today, I think it’s very unlikely he will ever come out.”

(MORE: Sentenced to Serving the Good Life in Norway)

24 comments
Adam_Irae
Adam_Irae

This is a rather sloppy headline. I had expected better of Time.

He got 21-to-life, not 21 years.

Charles Manson had his first parole hearing after 7 years, and has had one every 3 years or less ever since. Breviks will have far longer to his first hearing, and longer between them. He did, in effect, get a stricter sentence than Charles Manson is serving under the US system!

Also, he gets 3 cells because he wouldn't survive spending time with the other inmates. Letting him have his own little gym and shower is just cheaper than setting asides the public areas every day and running a separate regime for one man.

joe steward
joe steward

you can get more time than that in the us for smoking a joint.

Amit_Atlanta_USA
Amit_Atlanta_USA

While what this monster Breivik did was horrific, UNLESS Norway (amp; all of Europe) addresses the underlying issue of Muslim migration, the demise of Norway (amp; Europe) as we knew of, will only be much quicker.

Even India is paying a huge price by letting in over 30 million illegal Muslims from Bangladesh, who have driven out millions of predominantly Christians amp; some Hindus out of their homes/lands in Assam.

India also is continuing to pay a very heavy price by letting in largely unpatriotic Muslims to stay on in India, even after a separate nation (Pakistan) was created for them.

No wonder. today India has the dubious distinction of being the 2nd largest Muslim country in the world after Indonesia, and is now on the verge of anarchy triggered by its increasingly militant Muslim minority.

Amit_Atlanta_USA
Amit_Atlanta_USA

While what this monster Breivik did was horrific, UNLESS Norway (amp; all of Europe) address the underlying issue of Muslim migration, the demise of the Europe as we knew of, will only be much quicker.

Even India is paying a huge price by letting in over 30 million illegal Muslims from Bangladesh, who have driven out millions of predominantly Christians out of their homes/lands in Assam.

India also is continuing to pay a very heavy price by letting in largely unpatriotic Muslims to stay on in India, even after a separate nation (Pakistan) was created for them. No wonder. today India has the dubious distinction of being the 2nd largest Muslim country after Indonesia, and is now on the verge of anarchy triggered by its increasingly militant Muslim minority.

Hughes Hunt
Hughes Hunt

Be vigilant and wake up America before it is too late! Praise be to Gawker.com, Wikileaks and the power of the internet. Doubtlessly with the revelations, it is confirmed that Romney is a cheat, liar, fraud and a criminal unfit to be President. He can never be trusted at his word. Since the wheels of justice turn ever so slowly, Romney has yet remained untouchable due to money, power, influence and the perverse double standard of justice for the rich and for the poor. It is interesting to note the overzealousness of Romney, Ryan and the entire Republican Tea Potties in buying the presidency at all costs with the backing of 33 billionaire donors to his campaign of mass deception, in their hunger for absolute power, total control and unbridled monopoly in the USA and in a new world order. Is it any wonder then that in the history of the USA, President Barack Obama is the first black United States President after 235 years of white monopoly of the White House?

Oz
Oz

I've always been against capital punishment due to the liberal application of it in places like Texas.  But in these cases, of pre-meditated mass murder, it seems like the only deterrent. Perhaps with a few years of torture thrown in for good measure before their final sentence being carried out.

I'm curious how long Holmes will get.  Contrast this with the 20 years to life people who steal money get.  How killing even one person gets less time than any amount of money, no matter how large, is beyond me.

peter_principle
peter_principle

Wow. Three whole months in jail for each of the innocent children he murdered. Now THAT'S throwing the book at somebody.

Ruzanna Stambulyan
Ruzanna Stambulyan

 It's  a joke. Their whole justice system is a joke.

h323tech
h323tech

You've obviously not bothered to take a look at how the Norwegian justice system works - if you had, then you would've understood that he'll be in prison indefinitely.

JohnOBX
JohnOBX

In related news, the World Court officially declared Norway insane for their leniency toward mass murdering madmen.  

By what magical formula do you decide that 21 years is a maximum prison sentence?  Yes, yes, he'll be up for review after that and may be held longer for five year increments.  Don't know how parole boards or their equivalent work in Norway, but if they bear any resemblance to those here in the States, one might have cause for concern that this "effective life sentence" isn't so effective at all.

Seems to me they found a rational to release a certain mass-murdering Libyan recently and he hung around quite some time despite being given a month or so to live.

RobertSF
RobertSF

People, catch a clue. It's not 21 years. It's an indeterminate sentence that starts at 21 years. It's like our "25-to-life." It means you do the 25 year no matter what, and then they'll see if they let you loose.

So in 21 years, this guy will get a parole hearing. So what? Charles Manson gets parole hearings all the time. It doesn't mean he's ever getting out. Likewise, Breivik will die in prison.

peter_principle
peter_principle

Thanks for clarifying. I should have known better than to think that TIME would get it right.

Diana D. Hampton
Diana D. Hampton

Pretending otherwise will just lead to an ever-expanding definition of insane, and eventually it will come to mean nothing more than "doing or thinking something contrary to majority opinion". http://Special4Projects.blogsp...

happydayfortennis
happydayfortennis

A few observations:

1. Imagine how short his sentence would be if they had declared him insane. 

2. Twenty-one years seems like a somewhat arbitrary number for maximum sentence.

3. At 54 years old he will probably still be healthy and possibly bitter from the time in prison, where he would have plenty of time to plot an even more disastrous shooting.

Dmitri Sakmiof
Dmitri Sakmiof

The guy kills 77 people in cold blood, and he only goes away for 21

years. Oh well, there's always time for him to kill more in two decades'

time ... 

Sukumar D
Sukumar D

He looks in excellent state of health, lucky, the tax payers pay for trim hair-cut, shave and after shave too..! After 21 years, he will be in great shape too..!! The 77 people smiled in their graves..!

zoe99
zoe99

 You may disagree with the Norwegian system of justice, but it is theirs, and I suspect the parents of the victims prefer their system of justice to the American system (or to yours, if you are not American). The sentence may seem light to some accustomed to harsher systems of justice, but the reality is that the chance of him ever getting out of prison is extremely, extremely slim; probably close to zero.

The bigger travesty is the finding that he is sane; I do not think it possible that he is sane. What sane person believes that killing innocent children prevents anything, especially "Islamization"?

Ruzanna Stambulyan
Ruzanna Stambulyan

 ok, their system of justice sucks. He deserves nothing less than the death penalty, but not the easy needle that we have here, more like torture then kill and I would be glad to help. He is what every human being living on this planet should fear.

duranie_4life
duranie_4life

@jkaravidas What does justice for the innocent defenseless children have to do with being civilized. Muslims hang people for stealing a loaf  bread, don't compare that with what we have here. I loose being nice and civilized when it comes to justice for innocent victims. I still will say he deserves torture and death and yes maybe publicly and those  who want can watch and participate. You nice people who give nice prisons to murderers make me sick.

jkaravidas
jkaravidas

perhaps it would have been satisfying to you if he was hanged publicly outside a mosgue with a mullah present to chant prayers to Allah. or to extradite him in a muslim country to have him lynched by an angry mob!!

we dont care what you think!! thats the difference between civilized europeans and uncivilized savage muslims who crave for blood sentences, just like breivik did

Belisarius85
Belisarius85

People can be perfectly sane and commit terrible acts. Pretending otherwise will just lead to an ever-expanding definition of insane, and eventually it will come to mean nothing more than "doing or thinking something contrary to majority opinion".

h323tech
h323tech

 He'll never be released, Norway can hold serious offenders locked up indefinitely if they are deemed to be a continuous danger to society.Once he's served his original sentence, he will be reviewed, and if still judged to be a danger to society if released, he will be held for another 5 years, then it will be reviewed again, another 5 years added and so on.

Sukumar D
Sukumar D

Thanks immensely this info..my comment   is not the justice system but the spirit of justice..!! The Judges who delivered the judgement may not...!