OSLO, (Reuters) – Norwe-gian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik was jailed for a maximum term yesterday when judges declared him sane enough to answer for the murder of 77 people last year, drawing a smirk of triumph from the self-styled warrior against Islam.
An unrepentant Breivik, 33, gave the Oslo court a stiff-armed, clenched-fist salute before being handed the steepest possible penalty, 21 years. His release, however, can be put off indefinitely should he still pose a threat to a liberal society left traumatised by his bomb and shooting rampage last July.
Justifying blowing up a government building and gunning down dozens of teenagers at a summer camp as a service to a nation threatened by immigration, he had said only acquittal or death would be worthy outcomes. But his biggest concern was being declared insane, a fate he said would be “worse than death”.
Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen dismissed a prosecution call for her to label Breivik mad, a ruling that would have seen him confined indefinitely to psychiatric care rather than prison.
Prosecutors said they would not appeal, as did Breivik, who also refused to accept the verdict.
“I cannot legitimise the court by accepting this sentence.
At the same time I cannot appeal since doing that would mean I accept the court,” he said.
He also attempted to address “militant nationalists” with an apology but the judge quickly cut him off.
Some survivors of the slaughter at the Labour party youth camp on Utoeya island, and much of the Norwegian public, had been keen to see Breivik held clearly responsible for his actions – and to avoid the insanity verdict that would have prompted him to demand lengthy and traumatic appeals hearings.
For many Norwegians, still shocked by their bloodiest day since World War Two, the details were academic, however.
“He is getting what he deserves,” said Alexandra Peltre, 18, whom Breivik shot in the thigh. “This is karma striking back at him. I do not care if he is insane or not, as long as he gets the punishment that he deserves.”
Breivik, who surrendered to police on the island without a fight, admitted blowing up the Oslo government headquarters with a fertiliser bomb, killing eight, on July 22, 2011, then shooting 69 at the ruling party’s summer youth camp.