Breivik wins after ‘degrading’ treatment

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UPDATED: An Oslo City Court has ruled at least partially in favour of mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik, declaring on Wednesday that the high-security conditions under which he’s serving his prison term have amounted at times to “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

The verdict upholds Breivik’s complaint that the terms of his confinement violated the European Convention of Human Rights, article 3. “The prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment represents a fundamental value in a democratic society,” the court ruled. “This applies no matter what, also in the treatment of terrorists and killers.”

Objections to isolation and strip searches
The court objected, for example, to the strip searches Breivik has been subjected to after being allowed time in the prison yard. The court also pointed to Breivik’s lengthy periods in isolation at both the Ila and Skien prisons, his limited opportunities to complain and a lack of justification for the isolation, even though Breivik is still considered to be a highly dangerous criminal who also must be protected from other prisoners.

The court further claimed that Breivik’s mental health had not been taken into adequate consideration when prison staff set the conditions under which he must serve. Court-appointed psychiatrists have claimed he’s afflicted with a narcissistic complex, among other ailments, but he was ruled capable of standing trial.

The court found no violations, however, of the human rights convention’s article 8, which claims that “everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life.” His communication with the outside world can continue to be restricted. The court ordered the state to cover Breivik’s legal costs in bringing his complaints to court. They amount to NOK 330,937.50 (around USD 40,000).

The verdict seemed to all but dismiss the testimony of psychiatrists who have examined Breivik while he’s been in prison. They claimed his complaints about life in prison, where he has three cells at his disposal, were invalid and driven by his own exaggerated feelings of self-importance. One of Norway’s most highly regarded psychiatrists, Dr Randi Rosenqvist, had testified that she found it “difficult to take his complaints seriously,” not least after he’d complained about being served cold coffee and getting headaches. She said he should simply “take a glass of water and a pill.”

Verdict by fax
Breivik received the verdict in the form of a fax delivered to him at the prison in Skien. The court reached its decision after a four-day trial held just before the Easter holidays last month that attracted international attention. Many legal observers and media commentators noted both before the trial and afterwards that the attention was just what Breivik wanted. The now pale and balding 37-year-old ultra-right-wing terrorist made it clear that he’s bored with his prison existence, and he seemed to thrive once again in the glare of cameras, seizing the opportunity to make yet another Nazi salute on his trial’s opening day.

The verdict delivered on Wednesday limited his grounds for an appeal that could provide him with more attention. That may actually disappoint Breivik, whose attorneys claimed early on that they would appeal a ruling against him all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. By deciding in his favour, there’s not much left for Breivik to complain about and his attorney, Øystein Storrvik, confirmed later on Wednesday that no appeal would be filed. “We won on the most important points, and therefore see no need for an appeal,” Storrvik told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). He refused to say how Breivik himself had reacted to the verdict.

It was not immediately clear, however, whether the state would appeal. Prosecutors, who had denied Breivik’s human rights had been violated, had claimed in court that Breivik was “still the same attention-hungry narcissist” that he was four years ago, when he killed 77 people in twin attacks in the Oslo area, and that he had made a mockery of the court. The case itself drew international attention not least because the state took it seriously, and made a point of respecting the rights even of a convicted mass killer. Now that a verdict has been delivered, prison staff may simply be instructed to make changes in Breivik’s prison conditions, and thus avoid more highly public trials.

Officials at the Ila and Skien prisons refused to comment on the verdict. Prosecutor Marius Emberland told NRK he was “surprised” by it and would now discuss with his client, the Justice Ministry, whether an appeal would be filed. He said he’d read through the verdict, and was “glad” the court agreed with the prosecution on several key points, “also that we have an independent court system.”

Justice Minister Anders Anundsen told NRK he could understand if Norwegians react negatively to the verdict, “but it’s important that not least this case is handled in a normal manner by our court system.” He referred other inquiries back to the prosecutor’s office. That may be an indication that the state just wants to bring the case to an end.

Diplomat’s son turned mass-murderer
Breivik, the son of a former Norwegian diplomat who grew up with his divorced mother on Oslo’s fashionable west side, was a former restless teenage tagger who never completed college, had trouble holding a job and eventually moved back home with his now-deceased mother, who reportedly catered to his every demand. According to the highly acclaimed book about Breivik by author Åsne Seierstad entitled One of us, he isolated himself in his bedroom and played computer games, often around the clock, while developing a hatred for immigrants, especially Muslims. He blamed the Labour Party government for promoting multiculturalism and allowing too many immigrants into the country, and ultimately decided to attack both the government and the next generation of Labour Party politicians.

He embarked on a deadly rampage on July 22, 2011, when he bombed Norway’s government headquarters in Oslo and then carried out a massacre on the island of Utøya, site of a Labour Party youth summer camp. Eight people were killed in the bombings and 69 in the massacre, with hundreds more injured and billions of kroner worth of damage inflicted. It will take years before the government complex is rebuilt.

Breivik was sentenced in August 2012 to Norway’s harshest sentence, 21 years of special custody called forvaring that can keep him in prison for life. Parents of his victims, survivors of his attacks and commentators including national librarian Aslak Sira Myhre have since called for him to be sentenced to “invisibility,” expressing a hope that he won’t have cause for more court appearances and that the media will be able to ignore him. Berglund

  • jimkendall

    Anders Briefbrain waived any/all “rights” when he abolished those of the many innocent individuals by murdering them. I actually feel for him; it is unfortunate that his needs were not addressed before these events, and that he has arrived to this personally uncomfortable impasse.
    Yet, he did the deeds that got him into his current domicile.

    • mad1world

      Why are they calling this creep human?

  • Jo Carm

    You Norwegians need to get a grip. This biological piece of garbage should have no human rights whatsoever.

  • John

    I am not given to internet trolling and I almost always take the view that nations are entitled to run their court systems as they see fit.

    I make an exception this case. The court decision upholding Breivik’s so-called human rights complaints leaves one viewing your country’s legal system as being on par with that of Pakistan, Egypt or Venezuela; that is, political ideology trumps justice. What’s next? Are the courts going to allow Brevik to run a terror network from his prison cell?

    Norway’s reputation has suffered a huge blow. The decision falls far outside of any civilized norm. I feel so sorry for the hundreds Norwegians who lost loved ones to this political monster. It must be unbearable for them to live in a country with such a “justice” system.

    Thank you for allowing me to express my outrage.

    • Daniel Burke

      The people he killed were actually gone in the head leftists. But I am guessing most of the families involved no longer are.

    • Mongoose

      If it were unbearable, they would leave.

  • Stryke

    Clearly, the judges that are so concerned about a heinous mass-murderer’s “rights” need to lose a few family members to gain some perspective. What an insult to the victims of this monster.

    • Citizen87654

      Some judges’ brains get mushed by too much scotch.

      • Mongoose

        Gratuitous insults about people you don’t know and have never met.

    • Mongoose

      They conceded a couple of extremely minor points. That will shut thus jerk up.

  • oldcarman

    This scum has NO human rights because he denied them to 77 people & all of the injured. He should be water boarded & then executed, no excuses!

  • DeWhit

    This is a problem for Norway. It should not be a problem.

  • Hard Little Machine

    Well the upside is that it’s unlikely he’ll serve more than 14 years anyway.

    • mad1world

      And he’ll do it again, that is why capital punishment should be there. This is a good indication that this civilization is on it’s last legs. Depending on lawyers to make the laws, so written lawyers can abuse them and have judges who do not know what reality is. But people allow this to happen, see why the terrorist abound?

      • Citizen87654

        Always have to make sure there’s enough crime so lawyers have work. If they quickly executed or sent these guys up with a real life sentence, half the shysters would be in soup lines.

      • Mongoose

        It seems that their system has worked pretty well so far.

      • Andrew Joiner

        Indeed. Nothing at all but endless and senseless litigation in the guise of sap happy justice for teary eyed fops.

    • heropass

      He won’t make it that long. Child killers aren’t treated kindly by fellow prisoners, even in Norway.

      • Hard Little Machine

        There was an article about his jail cell last year. It’s a 2 room apartment with a private bathroom. He is subject to strip searches apparently but otherwise his conditions are on par with a college dorm. Certainly better than most military barracks.

        BTW low security ‘prisoners’ in Norway can be given their own condos with their own sun porch. No fences no walls. There’s no point since who would escape?

        • Mongoose

          3 “rooms”.

    • Mongoose

      I think that is incorrect. He will serve 21 years, and it may continue at the court’s discretion.

      • John

        You are quite the apologist.

  • Corpus_Innominata

    The standard of living is still higher in a Norwegian prison than it is for an American fast food worker. LOL

  • Citizen87654

    I agree. The guy needs to be turned loose in general population. Stir it up between the skinheads and everyone else – stand back and let nature take its course.

  • don684

    Do they still have those prisons in France where they put you in a cell that is so small that you can’t stand up and are kept in total darkness . That what he deserves. Norway is way too lenient.

  • Dave Will

    Norway wins the prize for the place with least common sense on earth. The man MURDERS 77 teenagers and he can’t be kept in solitary confinement? Oh by the way, Bernie sanders thinks Norway is heaven on Earth. That ought to demonstrate to anyone thinking of voting for an idiot, that the idiot is not fit to be President.

    • disqus_pFomH2XM20

      Common sense doesn’t work well here. If the system is changed to deal with the one in a million exception in a more satisfactory way (as judged by lay people), then all prisoners will end up being dealt with harsher. The public may find it more satisfactory to read that prisoners are no longer living in “5 star hotels”, but they may not notice that crime rates have gone up and that there are more prisoners.

      Any bad news about more crime will be compensated by “good news” about all these prisoners rotting in jail. Yes, your house was burgled for the third time, but you know what, the burglar got 20 years jail time. That’s what has happened in the US, and Norway has decided to not go down that road.

      • Andrew Joiner

        And yet you said absolutely nothing to actually substantiate your argument, other than the tired and rote “blah blah the Americans blah blah…”

    • MartolFart

      Get off topic much Dave? So you feel like your perspective “Trumps” how the Norwegians run their country? Get a clue….

  • Daniel Burke

    If anything sums up where ultra Left thinking gets you, Norway is the poster boy. I have literally never heard anything as dumb as this in my whole life. A man who executed 77 people (mostly children) wins his claim that he is being deprived of his “human rights”, while being clothed and fed in a cushy cell. Supposedly, rehabilitating a monster (there isn’t a chance of that happening – and it wouldn’t matter anyway, since his crime deserves no absolution) is more important to Norway than justice.

    Just read this nonsense:

    Hmm, maybe if you had given him the rope, he wouldn’t be deliberately playing your pathetic justice system like a fiddle.

    Also note: BBC uses the quote of one survivor that agrees with its Left position. I am willing to bet the majority do not share their sentiment. But, who cares, right?


    Bjorn Ihler, a survivor of Breivik’s massacre of young activists on Utoya, tweeted that the judgement in Breivik’s favour showed Norway had a “working court system, respecting human rights even under extreme conditions”.

    No, it means you are a dumbo – and Breivik is laughing at you.

  • Mongoose

    While I loath him as much as everyone else seems it, I can understand why the court ruled as it did. This is his one big shot. Done with that.

  • Andrew Joiner

    The irony is appalling, and I’m quite sure not all of the people he killed agreed with their own societies recalcitrant, boorish and hopelessly naive sense of social justice. The “every life is precious” argument remains as just juvenile and disingenuous as ever.

  • richard albert

    I think we have a hit here. “Breivik?! The Musical. What the hey, “Springtime for Hitler” (The Producers) grossed a bazillion.

    The scene where he dances an hideous clog-dance with the judges to music by Phillip Glass and scenic designs by Odd Nerdrum (cf. “Shit Rock)” is going to be over the top! There can be some RPs of “Koyaanisqatsi 2012” just for comic relief. Move over théâtre de l’absurde.