The Norwegian judiciary has rejected Anders Behring Breivik’s demand for parole. Citing Breivik’s lack of empathy and compassion, the judge deemed him unsuitable for release from prison. The Nedre Telemark District Court came to its unanimous decision on Tuesday afternoon. Breivik (42) has filed an appeal, Norwegian public broadcaster NRK reports.
Hearings on Breivik’s parole had been held from January 18th through the 20th. For security reasons, these took place in the gymnasium of Skien prison, where he is incarcerated. Due to Breivik’s well-established notoriety, the hearings attracted considerable attention. Every day, Breivik entered the room, made the Nazi salute, and displayed papers, attached to his suit and briefcase, warning of a white genocide taking place.
Breivik has been confined since 2012, when he was sentenced to prison for 21 years—with a minimum term of ten—for killing 77 people the year before. On 22 July 2011, he detonated a bomb near the government’s Oslo headquarters, which claimed eight lives, and then gunned down 69 others, mostly teenagers, at a Labour Youth summer camp on the island of Utøya. The verdict came as no surprise. Breivik, who still harbors strong Nazi-sympathies, has never shown a hint of remorse for his actions. Using findings of forensic psychiatrist Randi Rosenqvist as the basis for its decision, the district court fears that Breivik will not give up the ideology which led to the terrorist attacks.
The accused appears to be obviously disturbed and with a world of thought that is difficult for others to penetrate. He has the same ideological starting point today as he did in 2011.
During the hearings, Breivik had asked “for understanding that you can be a Nazi without being militant. Today, I strongly dissociate myself from violence and terror as well as the objectives in the manifesto. I hereby give you my word of honor that this is behind me forever.” But, in Breivik’s intentions to propagate his views by peaceful means only, the court puts little faith. Breivik has voiced ambitions of putting himself up as a parliamentary candidate for Norway’s Nazi movement, a plan which seems to “miss any kind of realism,” the court said.
He still wants radical changes of society and he wants to work actively for his views. He appeared confused with thoughts of greatness about himself and his own position in society. Both as a kind of negotiator and broker with heads of state and as one who has large crowds of sympathizers. He also presented a comprehensive business model with himself at the center.
It is doubtful that the Court of Appeal will take Breivik’s case. Defense lawyer Øystein Storrvik told reporters however that his team is preparing a separate case, aimed at improving Breivik’s living conditions. He had repeatedly urged the correctional authorities to make it easier for Breivik to interact with people other than just the prison employees, which are switched every six months so as to lessen the chance that Breivik will radicalize them. Storrvik believes his client should be released to prove that he is reformed and no longer a threat to society. According to him, this is impossible to prove while he is in total isolation. It’s “a paradox that a person is treated so badly in prison that he never gets better. He never gets out,” he told reporters.
His human rights have been violated under the conditions he is under. It has been tried in court before, but it has been several years with very few changes and improvements.
After his mother’s death in 2013 and with his father refusing to see him, contact with the outside world has been minimal for Breivik. He talks of a “strict regime” that has refused him building “meaningful relationships.” A prohibition from contact with “right-wing populist media” is another of his grievances.
Prosecutor Hulda Karlsdottir was satisfied with the result, and showed no surprise to Breivik’s wanting to appeal. The leader of a support group founded after the events of July 22nd, Lisbeth Røyneland, expected the verdict. “The trial itself only confirmed what we have been told in previous rounds: the terrorist is still very, very dangerous.” The unpredictability of the case’s future is however “difficult for me and for many others,” she told NRK.
Breivik has the opportunity to request his release again one year after a decision on his first appeal is reached. Should that fail, he would then be sentenced for the full 21 years. After this, the court can extend his detainment five years at a time.