Anders Behring Breivik has been found to be of sound mind and judgment and found guilty by a Norwegian court today. He has been sentenced to at least 21 years in prison.
Breivik has previously stated that a ruling pronouncing him sane would validate his crime as a political act.
His sentence to “at least 21 years” means that every third year after the original sentence was delivered the court will consider whether he is still a danger to society.
Breivik pleaded guilty to killing 77 people in June 2011, first detonating a bomb in Oslo which left eight people dead, then on the same day killing 69 more – mostly teenagers – after going on a shooting spree at a Labour Party youth camp on Utoya Island.
Breivik claims he was protecting Norway against Islam and multiculturalism, which he accused the ruling Labour Party of promoting, and had promised to fight an “insanity” verdict that would deprive his act of political significance, calling psychiatric incarceration a “fate worse than death.”
“I think we all can agree that on July 22, a barbaric thing happened,” Breivik said while delivering a somewhat muddled closing statement in June.
“I carried out a small barbarism to stop a greater barbarism,” he said, referring to his view that Norway’s immigration policies had created a “demographic war” against non-Muslims, in which he felt obligated to defend himself.
Breivik’s lawyer Geir Lippestad had previously argued that to find Breivik insane would be a violation of his human rights, as it would deny him his role in carrying out “a political project.”
“If we look at the basic human rights and take into account that the defendant has a political project – to see his actions as an expression of illness is to take away a basic human right, the right to take responsibility for one’s own actions,” Lippestad insisted as the 10-week trial wrapped up in June.
The maximum 21-year sentence for Breivik could be extended if he is deemed a danger to society.
Breivik’s jail cell has been the subject of controversy. On the chance that Breivik was found not guilty by reason of insanity, Breivik would have been the sole patient of a psychiatric ward that cost 130,000 and 260,000 euro, built especially for him. According to Associated Press reports, 17 people would have been on staff to treat him.
As it is, Breivik currently occupies a three-room jail cell, equipped with a computer and treadmill, having access to a games room, television, newspapers and daily outdoor strolls. It is likely that he will now return to this cell.
Analysts had been conflicted on Breivik’s mental status. Initially, forensic psychiatrists Torgeir Husby and Synne Sørheim concluded that Breivik was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, in a report issued last December.
Following a massive wave of criticism from legal and psychiatric experts, the court decided to appoint two new psychiatrists, who in April found that Breivik was legally of sound mind.