Gym eyed for mass murderer’s trial

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The young, ultra right-wing Norwegian who killed 77 people in and around Oslo during a bomb- and shooting spree four years ago may not get his latest complaint against the authorities heard in a courtroom. Instead, court authorities are considering hearing his complaint in the gymnasium of the high-security prison where he’s being held in Skien.

Anders Behring Breivik was sentenced in August 2012 to 21 years in prison under terms known as forvaring, a form of custody meant to protect the public from criminals deemed especially dangerous. In theory, it can be extended indefinitely, meaning Breivik may be held in prison for life. Norway has no legal provision that could have sentenced Breivik on 77 separate counts of murder, has no life sentence nor a death sentence.

Breivik was thus sentenced to the harshest punishment available under Norwegian law, even though it may be considered lenient compared to other countries. He also has been kept in specially built cells with three separate rooms, a flat-screen TV, study materials and a computer among other amenities. He nontheless has since sued the state, complaining about the conditions under which he’s serving his sentence. He has equated his long-term isolation from other prisoners to “torture,” complained about the controls placed on his communications and claimed that his human rights are being violated.

His case is due to come up for trial in March and he’ll be allowed to testify, but not in an ordinary courtroom, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Tuesday. Instead, his trial will likely be held in the gymnasium at the Skien prison, thus eliminating the need for high-security transport and expensive modifications to existing courtrooms.

Breivik’s defense attorney has gone along with the proposal. “The main point is for a judge to meet him and have his prison conditions in focus, not create any major fuss in an Oslo courtroom,” Øystein Storrvik told NRK. Nor does the state want a repeat of Breivik’s trial in 2012 that drew international attention. State officials are also keen to try to control the ongoing costs of Breivik’s incarceration.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund