OSLO — Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik was jailed for a maximum term today when judges declared him sane enough to answer for the murder of 77 people last year, drawing a smirk of triumph from the self-styled warrior against Islam.
An unrepentant Breivik, 33, gave the Oslo court a stiff-armed, clench-fisted salute before being handed the steepest possible penalty, 21 years. His release, however, can be put off indefinitely should he still pose a threat to a liberal society left traumatised by his bomb and shooting rampage last July.
Justifying blasting a government building and gunning down dozens of teenagers at a summer camp as a service to a nation threatened by immigration, he had said only acquittal or death would be worthy outcomes. But his biggest concern was being declared insane – the sole verdict he had said he would appeal.
Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen dismissed a prosecution call for her to label Breivik mad, a ruling that would have seen him confined indefinitely to psychiatric care rather than prison.
Some survivors of the slaughter at the Labour Party youth camp on Utoeya island had been keen to see Breivik held clearly responsible for his actions – and to avoid the insanity verdict that would have triggered lengthy and traumatic appeal hearings.
For many Norwegians, still shocked by their bloodiest day since World War Two, the details were academic, however.
“He is getting what he deserves,” said Alexandra Peltre, 18, whom Breivik shot in the thigh on Utoeya. “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.”
Breivik, who had surrendered to police on the island without a fight, admitted blowing up the Oslo government headquarters with a fertiliser bomb, killing eight, on Friday, July 22, 2011, then shooting 69 at the ruling party’s summer youth camp.
Dressed in a black suit with a tie 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, his lawyer said.
“He told me he will accept this verdict,” Geir Lippestad said. (Reuters)