Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik smiled with apparent self-satisfaction when Judge Wenche Elisabeth Arntzen ruled that Breivik was sane and sentenced him to 10 to 21 years preventive detention. The smirking and smiling Breivik was belligerent from moment he arrived in the courtroom, giving a clenched fist salute as he entered.
The sanity ruling was exactly what Brevik wanted. Instead of a ruling that found him insane and portrayed him as a psychotic killer, he can now say that he was was completely sane when he slaughtered 77 people as part of what he called a politically motivated “Anti-Muslim Crusade.”
Breivik stood calmly in the courtroom while the verdict was read. From the very start of his trial, Breivik claimed that the prosecution only wanted to find him insane in order to discredit his political philosophy. Breivik’s defense lawyer Geir Lippestad said,”He has always seen himself as sane, so he isn’t surprised by the ruling.”
The five-judge panel in the Oslo district court unanimously convicted Breivik, 33, of terrorism and premeditated murder and ordered him imprisoned for a period between 10 and 21 years, the maximum allowed under Norwegian law. The sentence can be extended if Breivik is still considered a danger to society. Breivik has said he would not appeal if he was found sane.
Despite a not quilty plea at the beginning of the trial, Breivik made little effort to deny his guilt. When he tesified, Breivik described his killing spree in minute detail, going step by step through the detonation of a car bomb at the government headquarters in Oslo that killed eight and wounded 200. Judge Arne Lyng said, “It was pure luck that not many more were killed.”
After the explosion in Oslo, Breivik traveled to the annual summer camp of the governing Labor Party’s youth wing on Utøya Island where he killed 69 more people while dressed as a police officer. The youngest victim was Sharidyn Svebakk-Bøhn, who was just 14 years old.
One survivor of the Utoya shootings, Tore Sinding Bekkedal, said, “I am very relieved and happy about the outcome. I believe he is mad, but it is political madness and not psychiatric madness. He is a pathetic and sad little person.”
Another survivor, Per Anders Langerod, wants to visit Breivik in prison. “I don’t want to hurt him because I have a problem with violence, now more than ever,” Langerod told the AP. “But I want to yell at him. I want to explain to him what kind of egomaniac mass murderer he is and how he has affected so many people so terribly.”
While the sentencing brings closure to a grieving nation, it will never explain the heart of darkness that could bring a man to commit such heinous acts against his fellow human beings. Anders Breivik accomplished his purpose; he may be locked away forever, but he will never be forgotten.