As one of Norway’s more provocative court cases wrapped up on Friday, state attorneys claimed that plaintiff Anders Behring Breivik “is still the same attention-hungry narcissist” that he was four years ago. The mass murderer has “mocked” the court with his claims of inhumane prison conditions, claimed attorney Adele Mestad during closing arguments.
Breivik’s own behaviour during the four-day trial, from his Nazi hilsen on opening day to claims that his “inhumane” treatment has included being served cold coffee and denied “meaningful contact” with alleged supporters, made it “easy” for the state to prove that he is not suffering from any alleged bad treatment in prison. “He mocks a court that has taken his case seriously,” Mestad said.
No injuries, no rights violations
The case wrapped up after a series of doctors, a court-appointed psychiatrist and various prison officials all testified that they see no signs of injuries caused by the terms of Breivik’s confinement. Breivik has complained most strongly about being held in isolation, but prison director Knut Bjarkeid could produce documentation that Breivik had been offered contact with, for example, volunteers from the Red Cross, which Breivik rejected on the grounds the Red Cross has ties to the government. Bjarkeid also testified that Breivik has himself said in various reports that he is happy, and had even spent one evening watching the local version of the European Song Contest, but didn’t care much for the music.
Bjarkeid could also testify that Breivik had been offered various jobs to do, to occupy his time, but Breivik contended that they were “beneath his dignity.”
Breivik’s own attorney, Øystein Storrvik, had a hard time producing any evidence of “inhumane treatment.” Storrvik complained about the use of isolation, strip searches, handcuffs when he’s allowed outside the three cells he can use and glass walls during meetings with his attorney or others, but that’s all part of high-security procedures. The mass murderer is still viewed as a “very dangerous man,” who could try to injure others, take hostages or injure himself.
Sympathy extended for the pain of the lawsuit itself
Mestad claimed that Breivik has given a “clear signal” that he was mostly out to grab attention with his lawsuit. “This is not a broken man we’re facing,” she said. She categorically denied that Breivik has been subjected to any “inhumane treatment,” that he has not been injured in any way and that his rights have not been violated. Breivik shook his head when she claimed that the state doesn’t think Breivik really has much power to influence others, but that it would continue to monitor and limit his correspondence because “some people in the darkest corners of the Internet may be lured by Breivik’s warped ideas.”
Mestad had begun her closing arguments by speaking of the enormous pain and sorrow Breivik inflicted on so many other people when he bombed Norway’s government headquarters and then carried out a massacre on the island of Utøya. A total of 77 people were killed, hundreds injured and the damage he caused to public property was huge. It will take many years and billions of kroner to rebuild the government officers that Breivik destroyed.
“On behalf of the state I would like to express enormous sympathy for the families of Breivik’s victims and survivors who have had to live with the (court) ordeal of this week,” Mestad said. Even though Breivik “dehumanized his victims,” Mestad said, “we must never answer by dehumanizing Breivik.” At the same time, she stressed, “he must not be allowed to abuse” his own legal options. Mestad, on behalf of the state, requested full acquittal on all counts of Breivik’s lawsuit. The costs of the lawsuit itself come on top of the roughly NOK 5.3 million (USD 638,000) that Breivik’s incarceration is costing taxpayers every year.
Judge Helen Andenæs Sekulic will now take the case under deliberation. Her verdict is expected in late April or early May.