Global debate over Anders Breivik’s sanity as he is sentenced to 21 years
Infamous mass murderer Anders Breivik has been found sane and guilty by a Norwegian court on 24th August 2012. The trial concerning the premeditated attacks by Breivik, committed on 22nd July 2011, began in March of this year and lasted for six weeks.
Breivik bombed government buildings in the Norwegian capital of Oslo killing eight and injuring 209. Within hours that day he travelled to Utoeya island dressed as a police officer and opened fire on a Labour Party youth camp he knew to be situated there. He proceeded to kill 69 young people, aged from as young as 14, and injured 33 others. His spree came to end when a police SWAT team confronted him and without resistance he surrendered.
The incident gained global coverage due to its number of young victims, shocking nature and a lingering question over whether Breivik would be found sane after such seemingly senseless acts.
Breivik himself insisted he was sane and gave the explanation that the killings were necessary to prevent the “Islamisation” of Norway. He has been seen by two teams of psychologists, the first of whom found him schizophrenic and the second who found him not. The court believed him to suffer from narcissistic personality characteristics, as confirmed by proceeding Judge Wenche Arntzen, but that they were not severe enough to be considered a form of psychosis. Adding to the controversy, prosecutors called for him to be considered insane and may yet still appeal.
Breivik showed no remorse for his actions and said he would not recognise the court. He said after hearing the verdict, “You have sided with the multiculturalist ideology and I cannot legitimise the court… I would like to end with an apology for all nationalists in Europe.”
Breivik was convicted of premeditated murder and terrorism. He was given a prison sentence of 21 years although this will be prolonged should he still be judged a danger to society at parole.
With 900 people affected by the attacks, Norway has been left in mourning and debate over the potential catalysts for racism in the European country and whether certain extreme ideologies can be classified as precursors for mental illnesses. It is hoped the guilty verdict, which Breivik did not appeal against, will bring some closure to the victims and their families. Indeed, one mother whose 16-year-old daughter was shot on Utoeya island said at the trial’s conclusion that she finally felt “a little happiness”.