"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Norway violated mass killer Breivik's human rights, court rules

Typical 3-room cell in Skien prison, Norway
Typical 3-room cell in Skien prison, Norway, where Breivik is incarcerated.
Norway violated mass killer Anders Behring Breivik's human rights by keeping him in isolation in prison after being sentenced for killing 77 people in twin attacks in 2011, a Norwegian court ruled on Wednesday.

Breivik took Norwegian authorities to court in March, accusing them of exposing him to inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

He protested his isolation from other inmates and from outsiders who are not professionals.

"The prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment represents a fundamental value in a democratic society. This applies no matter what - also in the treatment of terrorists and killers," judge Helen Andenaes Sekulic said in her ruling.

The verdict said the Norwegian state had broken Article 3 of the convention, pointing to the fact that Breivik is spending 22 to 23 hours a day alone in his cell.

"It's a completely locked world with very little human contact," it said, adding that there had been no attempt to ease the security "even though Breivik has behaved in an exemplary manner during his time in prison".

His isolation is "an inhuman treatment" of him in the meaning of the European convention, it said, noting that all his visits, except for his mother who died in 2013, are from professionals, and only and through a glass wall.

The wall must be seen as a "completely exaggerated security measure," said the verdict.

The ruling, however, said the Norwegian state had not violated Breivik's right to a private and family life.

In March, the case raised dismay, and some laughter, among Norwegians taken aback by Breivik's complaints of cold coffee and microwaved meals he said were "worse than waterboarding".

Breivik's lawyer said prison authorities must ease the isolation of his client.

"He must first and foremost be allowed to be in contact with other people," Oeystein Storrvik told reporters after the verdict. He declined to say what Breivik's reaction was to the ruling.


A. Breivik
A. Breivik
Lawyers representing the state said they would they would reflect would consider whether to appeal. "We are surprised by the verdict," said Marius Emberland, one of the two lawyers representing the state.

One survivor of the shooting on Utoeya island said the verdict was a sign that Norway has a working court system, respecting human rights even under extreme conditions.

"It also means we have to take the ruling seriously and evaluate how we treat prisoners, what abuses they may suffer, and how we avoid abuse," survivor Bjoern Ihler said on Twitter.

The state must pay Breivik's legal fees of some 331,000 Norwegian crowns ($40,732.45), the judge ruled.

Ahead of the verdict, lawyers for both parties said they would appeal if it did no go in their favor.

Breivik's lawyer said his client would not appeal the part of the verdict that ruled against his client.

Source: Reuters, April 20, 2016

The Inexplicable

Inside the mind of a mass killer

Utøya, where the Workers’ Youth League had its annual summer camp.
It was out of this world that the thirty-two-year-old Anders Behring Breivik stepped when, on the afternoon of July 22, 2011, he set out from his mother’s flat in Oslo’s West End, changed into a police uniform, parked a van containing a bomb, which he had spent the spring and summer making, outside Regjeringskvartalet, lit the fuse, and left the scene. While the catastrophic images of the attack, which killed eight people, were being broadcast across the world, Breivik headed to Utøya. That was where the Workers’ Youth League had its annual summer camp. There Breivik shot and killed sixty-nine people, in a massacre that lasted for more than an hour, right until the police arrived, when he immediately surrendered.

He wanted to save Norway. Just a few hours before detonating the bomb, Breivik e-mailed a fifteen-hundred-page manifesto to a thousand recipients, in which he said that we were at war with Muslims and multiculturalism and that the slaughter of the campers was meant to be a wake-up call. He also uploaded to YouTube a twelve-minute video that revealed, with propagandistic simplicity, what was about to happen in Europe: the Muslim invasion.

The shock in Norway was total. After the Second World War, the most serious political assault in the country had been the so-called Hadeland Murders, in 1981. Two young men, members of a small neo-Nazi underground movement, Norges Germanske Armé, were killed. Breivik’s crime was radically different. The television broadcasts of the scene were chaotic; the journalists and anchorpeople were just as affected by the events as the people they were interviewing; one read in their eyes and their body language incredulity, shock, confusion. The usual detachment with which news is delivered had collapsed. Indeed, at that moment it seemed as if the world stood open.

After the shock of the first few days, and the sorrow of the following weeks, the events of July 22nd have shuttered themselves. The most striking aspect of the ten-week trial—which took place a year later, and at which we were given our first glimpse of Breivik, and his entire life and his every environment were documented and analyzed—was how normalized both the perpetrator and the crime had become. It was as if the fact that he was a human being like us, who defended his point of view, subsumed the incomprehensible: suddenly, Breivik was the measure, not his crime. One of Breivik’s victims called him “a jerk” in the newspaper; numerous commentators described him as small, petty, pathetic. Some devoted themselves to finding the holes in his arguments; others described his missteps and his misconceptions. This reduction of the perpetrator, the act of making him seem less dangerous, is understandable, because a person in and of himself is small, but that does not mean we understand any more about how this act of terror was possible. On the contrary, in the wake of the trial, it is as if the two entities, the unimaginable crime and the man who committed it, were irreconcilable.

An initial court-ordered psychiatric review concluded that Breivik suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, but a second review diagnosed only “dissocial personality disorder” and “narcissistic traits.” The court ruled that he was not psychotic.

What can prompt a relatively well-functioning man to do something so horrific? In the midst of a stable, prosperous, and orderly country? Is it possible to ever comprehend it?

Based on Breivik’s political rhetoric and his self-understanding, and also on his chosen targets—Regjeringskvartalet and the ruling party’s youth organization—it is natural to draw a comparison between his act and the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, where Timothy McVeigh, in an anti-government protest, parked a truck bomb outside a federal building and murdered a hundred and sixty-eight people. Indeed, Breivik took the Oklahoma City bombing as a model for the first part of his attack. However, almost everything else regarding Breivik and his crime points away from the political and the ideological and toward the personal. He made himself a sort of military commander’s uniform, in which he photographed himself before the crime; he consistently referred to a large organization, of which he claimed to be a prominent member but which does not exist; in his manifesto he interviews himself as if he were a hero; and the impression this gives is of a person who has erected a make-believe reality, in which his significance is undisputed. The way in which he carried out his crime, and the way his thoughts contextualized it, resembles role-playing, rather than political terrorism. The solitude this implies is enormous, not to mention the need for self-assertion. The most logical approach is to view his actions as a variation on the numerous school massacres that have occurred in the past decades in the United States, Finland, and Germany: a young man, a misfit, who is either partly or completely excluded from the group, takes as many people with him into death as he can, in order to “show” us.

Click here to read the full article

Source: The New Yorker, Karl Ove Knausgaard, April 25, 2015 (Issue)

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