Pampering the Oslo Killer

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On March 5, public prosecutors finally served a formal indictment against Anders Behring Breivik, who on July 22 of last year parked a car containing a 950-kilogram homemade bomb with a seven-minute fuse outside the main government office building in Oslo – which, when it exploded, ended up rocking much of the downtown area and killing eight people – then drove out of town, took a ferry to the island of Utøya, where the annual Labor Party youth camp was underway, and, dressed in an outfit that was intended to resemble a police uniform, used a semi-automatic Ruger Mini 14 .233 caliber rifle and a semi-automatic Glock 9mm pistol to carry out an hour and twenty-minute shooting spree that resulted in 69 more deaths.

Two psychiatrists who were directed by the court to evaluate Breivik after his arrest issued a report last November diagnosing him as paranoid schizophrenic and concluding that he had been psychotic at the time of his crimes and therefore officially “criminally insane,” which means that he is subject not to punishment but to long-term medical treatment.  Owing to the widespread criticism of the psychiatrists’ report, the court asked two other doctors to perform their own evaluation of the murderer; their report is still in the works.

In the meantime, however, we have the indictment.  It charges Breivik with terrorism and, in line with the conclusions of the November report, calls for him to be committed to a mental-health facility for appropriate psychiatric treatment.  (Depending on the conclusions of the second report and the evidence that emerges at the trial, it is still possible for the prosecutors to ask for imprisonment rather than treatment.)

Perhaps anticipating public criticism, prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh has said that when formulating an indictment she and her colleagues “are required to make an assessment on the basis of available evidence. This means that we must make up our minds as to whether there is any justification for punishment.  This is an important part of the prosecuting authorities’ job.  One is not supposed to place oneself in the position of a judge.  As things stand now, there is no justification for punishing him.”

She’s right: under Norwegian law, there isn’t.  And that’s the rub.  Everyone in the country, with good reason, wants this guy locked up until he dies.  But there’s simply no precedent for the present situation, which, among much else, does a great deal to illuminate the philosophy that underlies Norway’s judiciary, its penal system, and its psychiatric establishment alike, and exposes their not unrelated inadequacies.

First, the judiciary.  Its founding assumption is that society is ultimately to blame for every crime, and that to put people away for a very long time is itself a terrible crime.  Therefore, sentences are legendarily lenient.  The most a “sane” perpetrator can get for 77 murders is 21 years in jail (although prosecutors may then request extensions at five-year intervals); a person considered to have been insane at the time of his crime can in theory be held indefinitely, although if doctors decide he has been “cured” he can be released at any time.  It is standard procedure in Norway for convicts, including perpetrators of the most heinous crimes, to be given a few days off now and then, so that they can go visit their families and engage in other such wholesome activities.  Though such an option will presumably be off the table for Breivik, his monstrous acts and their impact upon the nation have underscored just how far Norwegian law falls short of realistically addressing the scale and nature of his offenses.

Second, the penal system.  It is considered important in Norway to treat prisoners not just humanely but with a degree of respect and dignity that some of us might consider excessive and inappropriate.  One consequence of this is that, compared to some of the dorm rooms I’ve lived in and hotel rooms I’ve stayed in, your average Norwegian prison cell counts as luxury accommodation.  Since July 26 Breivik has had three cell rooms at his disposal.  In one of them, according to VG, “he can rest, sleep, and watch DVDs on TV.  In another, he can work on a PC without an Internet connection. In the third, there is training equipment and weights, where he can work out.”  (How much would that go for in Manhattan?)  In November it was reported that beginning on December 12, Breivik would have access to newspapers, radio, and a TV that gets about fifteen channels. He’s also allowed to receive mail, which has included love letters and marriage proposals.  Again, these reports of Breivik’s frankly rather pleasant-sounding lifestyle in lockup have helped highlight the immense disproportion between Breivik’s transgressions and his “punishment.”

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  • Alvaro

    "The most Breivik can get for his 77 murders is 21 years in jail (although for persons with mental disorders who have been determined to be a danger to themselves and others, there are purportedly ways of arranging for further detainment)."

    If Breivik is sentenced to "tvungent psykisk helsevern" because of insanity, he can in theory spend the rest of his life in a psychiatric institution. On the other hand, if he gets well – off he goes.

    If Breivik is sentenced to 21 years in prison (assuming a reversal of his diagnosis), and if there is great danger he might commit new crimes, the prosecution can ask the court to prolong the sentence for five years at a time. They can in theory go on like this as long as Breivik lives.

    I really don't have a problem with you disliking Norway. As a matter of fact there are a lot of things I dislike about Norway myself, and I usually enjoy reading your articles. But at least get your facts straight. I don't know why you are here, but the fact you live in Norway makes readers think you know what you are talking about, while you in this case spread false information.

    • DWPittelli

      I think you are in agreement with the author, who wrote of sentence length:
      "The most a “sane” perpetrator can get for 77 murders is 21 years in jail (although prosecutors may then request extensions at five-year intervals);"

      So I don't know what "false information" you are decrying.

      I don't think the author dislikes Norway either.

      • Alvaro

        Never mind. The article was edited and everything looks correct now.

    • Fred Dawes

      will he get a book out of this mass killing of kids? that monkey needs a rope and a tree.

    • Fred Dawes

      He needs to see the kids he killed, Now if you know what i mean? if this was 1930 he would be on the end of a rope by now. But this is good we must all hope for the Nut house sentenced, maybe he can be used for some experimantal thing like removing his evil heart.

  • Mike

    Heres a simple explanation to it all:

    Labor party opens its country to a huge number of Muslims. Muslims don't assimilate and they keep their same barbaric, backward way of living. The goal of Islam is to take over by force or from within. The labor party's main goal was to obviously build their voting base by allowing the huge influx of muslims. The freedom loving people of Norway have the common sense it takes to see this for what it is; A threat to their very way of living. So you get this guy like Breivik who is fed up with what the labor party is doing and he takes action. The labor party did this to themselves. End of story.

    • Alvaro

      Spot on. I would also like to add that anyone voicing concern over this issue are getting demonized, intimidated and silenced. Sometimes even physically attacked. Tolerance for diverging political views in public is extremely low in Norway.

      So the people has not been asked if they wanted this unprecedented transition of Norwegian society, and they can't really object to it without risking getting ostracized, losing their jobs – or teeth. No wonder at least one person snapped. Unfortunately I expect there will me more people like him if this goes on.

      • Mike

        I have a feeling more people will follow Breiviks lead too. You're right, the people were not asked. It was all pushed by the Labor Party. This idea that we have to be open to multiculturalism pertaining to muslims is just a bunch of bull. Everywhere in the world muslims cause problems in the name of Islam no matter what area they inhabit. They subjegate, oppress, torture, and rape in the name of Islam. I support the Norwegians who are against the muslims being there that aren't assimilating. I feel for the Norwegian culture because I see the country falling apart due to the Islamic takeover just like in France and England. I see the political correctness and the hypocrisy and I know the frustration.

  • JasonPappas

    Most of the Norwegian links don't work.

  • John

    One of the curious features of our current social system is the incompetent citizen. You can be judged such a nut case that the laws do not apply and at the same time retain all the rights of citizenship. This gives full freedom to people who can not be held accountable for their actions.

  • BS77

    Norway is the poster child for delusional liberalism……

  • tagalog

    My former wife and I, who both worked for years in a mental hospital with the severely mentally ill, including the criminal mentally ill, both agreed that the vast majority of the mentally ill are no more likely to be violent than the rest of the population, but that those who are, are so unpredictable and prone to extreme violence that if they murder they ought to be executed BECAUSE their mental illness makes it impossible to insure that they won't do it again if they ever go free.

  • Ghostwriter

    Although he deserves to be in an insane asylum,what Breivik also deserves is the death penalty. It's a shame that Norway doesn't have it. If anyone on earth deserves it,it's Anders Breivik.

  • Brujo Blanco

    Norway is obviously the victimof its own political correctness. I suppose we should talk after paying $750,000 to put in a soccer field for the terrorists locked up in GITMO. This Norweigan nut bag ultimately might be granted the opportunity to kill again. My solution is if one is guilty of murder one receives life. Norway needs to come to terms with a seriously flawed legal system.

  • W. C. Taqiyya

    The question is not whether Breivik is or isn't insane. The question is why they initially ruled him insane and it appears their motivation was to avoid the publicity of a trial. A public trial would, after all, give Breivik a platform from which to clearly enunciate his views. And, like most countries, Norway suppresses all politically incorrect opinions. In addition, the brave Norwegians don't want to 'inflame' their peaceful Muslim brothers. Now that the insanity ploy has been discredited, they decided to charge Breivik with 'terrorism'. Very convenient. Again, this charge has been levied because it is so awful it dehumanizes and discredits Breivik. So, it's essentially the same thing as calling him insane. Mission accomplished. Interestingly, terrorism is such a wonderfully nebulous concept it can be applied to almost any unwanted circumstance, person or group. After all, is not any murder an act of terrorism or any robbery or rape? So, the question of the day is not whether Breivik is insane or whether he is a terrorist, the question is, who isn't? It's a given that regimes such as Norway will find terrorism to be a very seductive charge and will soon apply it far and wide in their justice system. After all, proving you guilty of a nebulous concept is so much easier and no punishment can be too extreme. Yup, that's what I call a great leap forward in the field of political repression. I mean, criminal justice. Chuckle.

  • Hank Rearden

    Well…these are the guys who gave us Quisling. I thought that was an aberration, but maybe not. Seems to confirm the definition of a liberal – "someone who is so broad-minded he won't take his own side in an argument."

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Who really runs Norway? I am thinking that maybe it is Hannibal Lecter on steroids. If Breivik is ill with
    a serious illness, it may be the beginning of and all out plague and a variant may hit the Muslims
    and all of them will be killed by a kill mad society which is the end result of years of insane liberalism.
    Liberalism is really dancing with the Devil and Breivik was on a dance marathon………..This horror
    story is not over, the band is still warming up…………………………………..William

  • Tanstaafl

    Vikings are looking better and better.

  • Im_Old_BBart_School

    Liberals have been waiting since 9/11 for a deranged madman they could call a "fundamentalist Christian terrorist" to justify their denial of an Islamic threat — not to mention the "disastrously stupid" policies which result from the denial.

    Read more:

    In Anders Behring Breivik, the Oslo mass murderer, the media finally have their man.

    And they got a bonus inasmuch as Breivik is an "Islamophobe."

    That is, he apparently recognized the danger of a strong Islam in a weak Europe. Yet, because of his demented psyche, he harmed rather than helped his country.

    The Arabs and/or Muslims of today control 22 nations… 99½ percent of the ENTIRE Middle East land mass

    ……..While Israel occupies only a 1/2 of 1 percent speck on this same map.

    But that's still too much land for the Arabs to spare.

    • Smokewater

      For the liberals Breivik is close to "posterboy" when it comes to terrorist. And ofcourse they call inn a fundementalist Christian. This one terrorist evens out all islam-related terror through out history. But the guy isn't a Christian. He has no relation to God or Jesus.

  • Fred Dawes

    why is he still alive????