Anders Behring Breivik has been found to be sane by the court. Judge Wenche Elisabeth Arntzen this morning declared him criminally responsible for the killing of 77 people in his bombing and shooting attacks on June 22 last year.
The court in Oslo this morning announced its verdict. The five judges found Breivik guilty of terrorism and premeditated murder. He was sentenced to "preventative detention", a special form of imprisonment for offenders considered a danger to public safety. Breivik was sentenced to a minimum of ten years and a maximum of twenty-one, the longest term allowed under the Norwegian penal code.
The court finding him sane is precisely the outcome sought by Breivik. He has consistently attempted to represent himself as someone fighting for a cause, rather than as a madman, who senselessly killed and injured hundreds of innocent people. According to USA Today, Breivik looked pleased when Judge Arntzen announced the verdict. The Financial Times described Brevik's response as a smirk.
The sentence of "preventative detention" renders it unclear how long Breivik will actually spend in prison. Theoreticallly, after serving five years, including pre-sentencing time in custody, he could be released immediately, if he is not seen as a threat to public safety. However, according to the Daily Telegraph, Lasse Qvigstad, a former Oslo chief prosecutor, said:
...realistically speaking he would be incarcerated for perhaps the rest of his life.
The conditions of Breivik's confinement may well strike some as rather luxurious. However, Norway takes pride in its enlightened and humane prison system, seeing deprivation of liberty as the punishment, rather than harsh conditions.
Breivik has three cells at Oslo's Ila prison. One has a bed, another a gym and the third a desk with a laptop computer. He also has access to a courtyard. These facilities were specially built for him as he cannot have contact with other prisoners, a measure clearly intended for his own safety.
According to the Financial Times, Helga Pedersen, deputy leader of the Labour Party, said:
Today my thoughts go above all to all those who are missing someone they lost. But I hope that the verdict can help close a chapter.