Confessed terrorist Anders Behring Breivik was ordered on Monday to spend at least four more weeks in full isolation at the Ila Prison west of Oslo, after a city court judge went along with requests from police and the prosecution. Debate meanwhile, has already started on what sort of sentence Breivik should ultimately receive.
Judge Anne Margrethe Lund also announced after Breivik will continue to be held for at least another eight weeks in custody while police continue to investigate the case against him.
Breivik has confessed to bombing Norway’s government headquarters in Oslo and carrying out a massacre on the island of Utøya outside Oslo. A total of 77 persons were killed in the attacks, which Breivik has said were aimed at launching a war against the politicians that allow creation of multi-cultural societies.
Not allowed a public forum
Monday’s hearing marked the third time Breivik has appeared in court but it was closed once again to the public and the press. The court and an appeals court last week have given consideration to many standpoints, not least that Breivik should not be given the public forum he has sought to spread his ideology.
He tried at his first court appearance on July 25 to read from the so-called “manifesto” he released just before the attacks, but was stopped by the judge. On Monday he was allowed to read aloud from a prepared text he had written, but the court ordered a ban on any public references to it.
One attorney for victims’ families and survivors of the attacks told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the defendant “said things that don’t deserve the light of day. Both the police, attorneys and his defense counsel agree that the only right things is a total ban” on references to what Breivik said.
Fear of sending signals
NRK reported that police and the court have also worried that Breivik may use an open court hearing to send messages to alleged supporters. He has claimed there are at least two other right-wing extremist terror cells in Norway, and police continue to investigate whether that’s true.
Breivik’s defense counsel Geir Lippestad said the ban prevented him from discussing what his client said, but noted Breivik did not mention his own personal situation other than that he wanted to be released from total isolation. Lippestad said Breivik wore a dark suit into court and appeared calm and collected. He has not expressed any regret for his acts, which left many teenagers dead at a Labour Party summer camp.
‘No punishment in Norway can fit the crime’
Under Norwegian law, Breivik faces a maximum prison term of 21 years and can be released after 14 years if he exhibits good behaviour. Most legal experts think he will instead be sentenced to forvaring, a special form of protective custody that can in practice keep him in prison for life.
Nils Christie, a professor of criminology at the University of Oslo, has written newspaper commentaries and spoken on national radio lately that no sentence allowable under Norwegian law can ever retaliate for what Breivik did. He urged Norwegians to hold on to their values and not “turn him into a monster.” Breivik, according to Christie, “is one of us,” and therefore “mustn’t disappear as someone we must learn to protect ourselves against.”
Several politicians are calling for stiffer sentences in Norway, never a death penalty but possibly life sentences for the worst criminals. Hans Petter Graver, dean of the law school at the University of Oslo, though, seemed to agree with Christie.
No ‘eye for an eye’ mentality
There is no room for “an eye for an eye” mentality in Norway, Graver told news bureau NTB. Breivik must be tried under the laws and penalties in force when he carried out his July 22nd attacks.
“In a modern society, punishment must address several considerations,” Graver told NTB, not just justice and fairness but also the need to protect society and return the criminal to society.
“But in the perspective that the punishment shall fit the crime, if people believe that constitutes justice, then … a society like ours can’t deliver that sort of justice,” Graver stressed. No allowable punishment can fit Breivik’s crimes, he said, but that shouldn’t weaken society’s confidence in its legal system.
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