Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik appears in court on Tuesday after 10 years behind bars, saying he is no longer a danger to society and seeking an early release from his 21-year sentence .
The far-right terrorist has shown no remorse since killing 77 people in a bomb and gun massacre in 2011, and families of victims and survivors fear he stands up for his views extremes during the hearing, which experts say is unlikely to grant him early release.
Randi Rosenqvist, the psychiatrist who has followed Breivik since his incarceration in 2012, says: “I can say that I don’t detect any big changes in the functioning of Breivik” since his criminal trial when he bragged about the extent of his massacre, or human death in 2016. rights case, when he raised his hand in a Nazi salute.
“In principle and in practice, a person seeking parole should show remorse and show understanding why such acts cannot be repeated,” she said.
She will testify at her hearing and submit the psychiatric report, which is usually crucial if the criminals want to demonstrate that they are no longer dangerous.
“That’s unlikely to happen,” said Berit Johnsen, a research professor at the University College of Norwegian Correctional Service. “I think it’s pretty obvious that there is still a high risk that he will commit further crimes if released.”
The hearing is expected to last three days, but the verdict will not be announced for several weeks.
It was July 22, 2011, when, after months of meticulous preparations, Breivik detonated a car bomb outside government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight people and injuring dozens. He then traveled to the island of Utøya, where he opened fire on the annual summer camp of the leftist Labor Party’s youth wing. Sixty-nine people were killed there, mostly teenagers, before Breivik surrendered to the police.
In 2012, Breivik was sentenced to the maximum sentence of 21 years with a clause – rarely used in the Norwegian justice system – that he can be detained indefinitely if he is still considered a danger to society. It is this clause that allows him to request a parole hearing after 10 years. And while that likely means a life sentence, it also opens up the possibility that Breivik could demand annual parole hearings where he can air his views, Johnsen says.
“According to Norwegian law, he now has the right to go before a judge,” said Øystein Storrvik, Breivik’s defense attorney. “He emphasizes that right. And it’s hard for me to have an opinion on his motivation for doing it.
Storrvik has confirmed that Breivik will call on Swedish neo-Nazi Per Oberg to come to his defence. He would not otherwise have described the basis of Breivik’s case, but made it clear that no one should expect contrition.
“According to the law, there is no obligation to have remorse,” Storrvik said. “So it’s not a main legal point. Absolutely, the legal issue is whether he is dangerous.
Lisbeth Kristine Røyneland, who runs a support group for families and survivors, worries that giving Breivik a platform could inspire like-minded ideologues. “I think he’s doing this for attention. The only thing I’m afraid of is if he gets the chance to speak freely and convey his extreme opinions to people who have the same state of mind. ‘spirit,’ she said.
She referred to the case of Norwegian gunman Philip Manshaus who, inspired by the 2019 terrorist attacks in New Zealand, murdered his half-sister and attempted to storm a mosque.
Breivik is in shape for demagoguery to try to pursue his extremist goals. During his trial in 2012, he walked into the courtroom daily giving a clenched fist and telling grieving relatives he wished he had killed more. He tried to create a fascist party in prison and contacted right-wing extremists in Europe and the United States by mail. Prison officials seized many of these letters, fearing that Breivik could inspire others to carry out violent attacks.
In 2016, he sued the government, saying his isolation from other prisoners, frequent strip searches and frequent handcuffing early in his incarceration violated his human rights. He gave a Nazi salute to reporters in the case he initially won but was overturned by higher courts in 2017.
Beyond providing a pulpit for the killer, the case could reopen psychological wounds for the families of victims and survivors, Røyneland says.
“I personally think it’s absurd that he has this opportunity. I think it’s ridiculous, but you have to remember that having him have all this attention will be hard on survivors and parents and some people. can be retraumatized.
At the time of the attacks, Breivik claimed to be the commander of a secret Christian military order plotting an anti-Muslim revolution in Europe. Investigators found no trace of the group. In 2016, he described himself as a mainstream neo-Nazi, saying his old crusader image was just for show.
Breivik has three cells all to himself in the high-security section of Skien Prison. The cells are equipped with video game consoles, a television, a DVD player, an electronic typewriter, newspapers and exercise machines. He also has daily access to a larger exercise yard. Rosenqvist said his conditions were “excellent” and he had the opportunity to pass his high school exams and is now studying at university level.
The court that convicted him in 2012 found him criminally sane, rejecting the prosecution’s view that he was psychotic. Breivik did not appeal his conviction.