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Norwegian Mass Killer Found Sane, Gets Max Prison

  • Selah Hennessy

Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik gestures as he arrives at the court room in Oslo Courthouse August 24, 2012.
Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik was sentenced to a maximum jail term of 21 years on Friday. The court found Breivik, who killed 77 people last year, legally sane.

Norwegian Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen, who read the verdict out, specified that Breivik's sentence included a minimum period of 10 years behind bars. She said 445 days would be deducted, reflecting the time he has already spent in prison.

Twenty-one years is the toughest term available for murder and terrorism under Norwegian law. But it can be extended if he is found to be a continued threat when that time is up.

Aerial view of Utøya Island, where the suspected gunman shot and killed at least 84 people. (AP)
Aerial view of Utøya Island, where the suspected gunman shot and killed at least 84 people. (AP)
In July of last year Breivik set off a bomb in Norway's capital, Oslo, that killed eight people. He then travelled to a nearby island where young members of the youth wing of the ruling Labor Party were at summer camp. Dressed as a policeman, he shot dead 69 people. His youngest victim was 14 years old.

Outside the court on Friday, people welcomed the verdict.

"It was such a shock to most Norwegian people when this happened. I think this is a relief for everyone. I think it's positive for most Norwegians, " said Sindra Hauglund adding that it closes a chapter for many Norwegians.

Beate Amundsen Korren agrees.

"We people wanted this verdict and it will give us an opportunity now to sort of get rid of him for a while and have him behind bars," Korren said.

But Evan Hansen cautions that it might not be the last Norwegians hear of the anti-Muslim Breivik.

"So far it's a positive thing but many things will happen while he's in jail and we have got a lot of people who are following him and that's a problem and how to deal with it," Hansen said. "Let them write, let them speak because they have to do it in the open, you can't close it down."

Breivik described the massacre as the most "spectacular" political act in Europe since the World War II. A right-wing extremist, he believed the killings would deter multiculturalism in Europe.

A central focus of the trial has been on Breivik's sanity. An initial psychiatric analysis found him to be a paranoid schizophrenic but a second analysis decided he was sane. Breivik hoped to avoid what he called the "humiliation" of being found mentally insane.

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