Breivik makes Nazi salute as court reviews ‘inhumane’ prison regime

January 10, 2017 4:56 pm
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In August 2012, Anders Behring Breivik was sentenced to 21 years in prison for killing 77 people a year earlier, which can be extended indefinitely if he is still considered a threat/AFP

, SKIEN, Norway, Jan 10 – Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik made a Nazi salute at the opening of an appeal case on his prison conditions Tuesday, repeating the provocative gesture he made in a lower court hearing.

The extended arm gesture, sure to offend families of the 77 killed in 2011, earned Breivik a reprimand from Judge Oystein Hermansen, who described it as “offensive to the dignity of the court” and “disturbing.”

Overview
  • The appeals court is examining Breivik's case after a lower court in Oslo ruled in April that his rights had been violated and he was subjected to "inhumane" and "degrading" treatment in prison, in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • In prison, Breivik has a three-cell complex where he can play video games and watch television on two sets. He also has a computer without internet access, gym machines, books and newspapers.

Wearing a dark suit, with a shaved head and thick brown beard with a touch of grey, Breivik, 37, appeared more haggard than during his last court appearance in April.

He agreed not to repeat the salute.

The appeals court is examining Breivik’s case after a lower court in Oslo ruled in April that his rights had been violated and he was subjected to “inhumane” and “degrading” treatment in prison, in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The legal defeat stunned the Norwegian state, which has prided itself on scrupulously respecting the rule of law after the bloodiest attack on its soil since the end of World War II.

In prison, Breivik has a three-cell complex where he can play video games and watch television on two sets. He also has a computer without internet access, gym machines, books and newspapers.

On July 22, 2011, Breivik, disguised as a policeman, gunned down 69 people, most of them teenagers, at a Labour Party youth camp on the small island of Utoya, tracking them down for more than an hour as they were trapped by the chilly waters of the lake.

Earlier that day, he killed eight people with a bomb he detonated at the foot of government building in Oslo.

Families prepared for ‘the worst’

In the lower court’s ruling, the judge had pointed to Breivik’s prolonged isolation he has been held apart from other inmates for five-and-a-half years for security reasons and a lack of measures to compensate for the severe regime.

Since 2011, the killer has only been allowed contact with guards and other professionals such as lawyers and doctors, behind a glass pane, with the exception of one brief visit from his mother just before she died.

The lower court ruling also questioned the many potentially “humiliating” strip searches, the systematic use of handcuffs, and frequent awakenings at night, especially in the early days of his imprisonment.

“The prohibition of inhumane and degrading treatment represents a fundamental value in a democratic society … (and) applies no matter what, (even) in the treatment of terrorists and killers,” judge Helen Andenaes Sekulic wrote in her verdict.

In August 2012, Breivik was sentenced to 21 years in prison, which can be extended indefinitely as long as he is considered a threat.

The three appeals court judges are also to rule on another point raised by Breivik himself.

In April, the lower court ruled the state was within its rights to closely monitor and filter the prisoner’s correspondence to prevent him from forming a network capable of carrying out new attacks.

Breivik claims this violates his right to privacy, as guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention.

While Norway attempts to turn the page on this traumatic episode in its history, the families of the victims have largely remained silent ahead of the appeals case.

None of their representatives were present for the appeals hearing.

But a support group for families of the victims has warned its members to prepare for “the worst” — meaning another media frenzy.

Noting that Breivik had “among other things tried to knock out the legal system with his attacks”, the group said the “best way to defend the rule of law was to apply its rules in this case like any other.”

The hearing is to last for six days.

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