The young right-wing Norwegian extremist who killed 77 people on July 22, 2011 was due to be back in a make-shift courtroom at his high-security prison in Skien on Tuesday. Mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik still contends that the strict terms of his imprisonment violate his human rights.
Breivik’s mental health will be a central part of the state’s appeal of a lower court order last year. It largely agreed with Breivik’s claim that his prison conditions did indeed violate at least some of his human rights.
That was a major setback for Norway’s prison system, which stresses rehabilitation over punishment and is generally seen as lenient and high-grade compared to many countries. The verdict set off a storm of reaction and the state appealed, disagreeing that Breivik’s prison terms violate the European Human Rights Convention, Article 3.
Breivik’s attorney was expected to argue that conditions at the two high-security prisons where the bomber and gunman has been serving his sentence haven’t addressed his “mental vulnerability.” Breivik himself, however, vigorously declared himself of sound mind when he bombed Norway’s government headquarters and gunned down mostly young members of the Norwegian Labour Party at their summer camp. He has claimed his attacks were a political response to what he considered to be Labour’s liberal immigration policies.
Others have claimed Breivik is bored in prison and starved for attention, and that his lawsuits are fueled by a desire to get back into the news. The case will be heard once again in the prison gym in Skien, which has been converted into a courtroom for the occasion.