Norway’s worst mass murderer since World War II may still wind up in a high-security prison, despite being declared insane this week by court-appointed psychiatrists. The fate of Anders Behring Breivik has dominated Norwegian media all week, and now one of his main prosecutors seems to be easing public fears that he may some day be set free.
Prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh told newspaper Klassekampen on Friday that both a relatively new law and legal precedent allow for Breivik to be transferred back to a high-security prison, even if his insanity diagnosis is upheld and he later is declared cured.
She pointed to a ruling handed down by Norway’s Supreme Court just 10 days before Breivik bombed Norway’s government headquarters and then carried out a massacre at a Labour Party summer camp. His attacks on July 22 left 77 persons dead and caused billions of kroner in damage.
Another ‘cured’ defendant put back in prison
On July 12, Norway’s highest court ruled in another case that a man convicted of aggravated assault, threats and kidnapping, who also had been declared criminally insane, could be transferred back to a prison when declared “too healthy” for further treatment in a psychiatric institution. The reason: The court believed he remained dangerous and thus posed a threat to society.
“If (Breivik) no longer is sick, but still dangerous, there’s a decision that makes it possible to transfer him to an institution within the prison system,” Engh told Klassekampen.
The Supreme Court ruling was controversial and Klassekampen reported that the defense attorney for the man involved is considering an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Engh said it was difficult to say how probable it is that the ruling will be used in Breivik’s case, but the possibility is there.
Other attorneys already have claimed they can use the law itself, from 2002, to keep Breivik in custoday. It was approved as a means of protecting the public from persons who can’t be held responsible for their actions because of mental illness, but who nonetheless are viewed as dangerous even after allegedly being cured. The 2002 law allows for incarceration after release from a psychiatric institution.
Given public outrage over Breivik’s crimes, it’s likely efforts will be made to keep him locked up. Momentum is also building in legal circles, including at the highest levels of Norway’s court system, to reevaluate current law by discussing why mentally ill persons can be exempt from punishment. Several politicians support moves to allow for punishment of mentally ill persons. Any change in law, however, would not apply to Breivik since it couldn’t have a retroactive effect.
Moves are also underway to challenge the court-appointed psychiatrists’ declaration that Breivik is criminally insane. Many Norwegians, among them people in influential positions, simply can’t understand how a man who so carefully planned his attacks, carried them out in cold-blooded manner and shows no regret can be considered insane and thereby escape punishment. They don’t think treatment at a psychiatrist institution is secure enough or an appropriate response to Breivik’s actions.
New demands from Breivik
More details from the court-appointed psychiatrists’ 243-page evaluation and diagnosis of Breivik continue to emerge, meanwhile, and reveal that Breivik issued a new series of demands during interviews with the psychiatrists.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported that Breivik wants the Norwegian police to set up three new organizations, funded with NOK 30 million (about USD 5 million) each, to look after the interests of Norway’s indigenous peoples, to stop the “Islamification” of Europe and to provide for the breeding of more Norwegians. The latter, referred to at Tuesday’s press conference on the psychiatrists’ report, involves Breivik’s desire to set up reservations where breeding projects would be carried out.
Breivik also wants to establish a new daily newspaper, apparently to spread his right-wing extremist views, and create a right-wing version of the so-called Blitz House in Oslo, which caters to left-wing youth who often demonstrate against racism.
“If all this is fulfilled, we will refrain from (use of) chemical, biological and flammable weapons,” Breivik told the psychiatrists, apparently referring to the “resistance movement” he claims to lead. Breivik also issued other death threats, reported Aftenposten.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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