Mass killer wins part of lawsuit against Norwegian state for breaching his rights
Court rules his treatment was in breach of rules prohibiting "inhuman or degrading treatment"
Right-wing extremist killed 77 people in 2011 in Norway's deadliest attack since World War II
Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik has won part of his lawsuit against the state over his solitary confinement in a high-security prison, a court announced Wednesday.
Last week, the Oslo district court found that the 37-year-old’s incarceration in a high-security prison, where he is held in solitary confinement, violated Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, prohibiting “inhuman or degrading treatment.”
It also ordered the government to pay legal costs of 331,000 kroner ($40,600) for the far-right terrorist, who killed 77 people in a shooting rampage and bombing attack in 2011.
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The court rejected Breivik’s claim that the state had violated Article 8 of the convention, which guarantees respect for “private life” and correspondence.
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The ruling outlined areas of concern in regard to the conditions of Breivik’s confinement, which, taken as a whole, constituted a breach of his rights.
These included the duration of his isolation and inadequate consideration of the mental impact of the regime. It also said that routine nude checks of Breivik were not sufficiently justified from a security perspective.
But it did not give concrete directives on how the conditions should be changed.
Breivik held in isolation
The suit was heard over four days last month inside a gymnasium at Skien prison, which was temporarily converted into a courtroom.
Appearing in public for the first time since his 2012 trial, Breivik gave testimony, alleging that his isolation in prison constituted a “sadistic” attempt by Norwegian authorities to kill him.
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Since his arrest in 2011, he has been separated from other inmates, and virtually his only visits have been with professionals, who meet with him separated behind a glass screen.
His incoming and outgoing mail is also censored to prevent him from building networks among far-right extremists and inciting sympathizers to violence.
Observers expressed concern that Breivik – who gave a Nazi salute on his first day in court – was using his court appearance as a platform to publicize his extremist ideology.
Breivik’s killing spree on July 22, 2011, was the deadliest attack in Norway since World War II.
Bjorn Ihler, one of the survivors of the Utoya massacre, said on Twitter last week that the ruling was a “sign we have a working court system, respecting human rights even under extreme conditions.”
“Our best weapon in fighting extremism is humanity. The ruling in the Breivik case shows that we acknowledge the humanity of extremists too,” he wrote.
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CNN’s Tim Hume wrote and reported from London, and journalist Olav Mellingsater reported from Oslo.