Norway mass killer attempts to sue state for second time, alleging inhumane isolation in prison

  • Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian right-wing extremist who killed 77 people in 2011, is suing the state for the second time, accusing the Justice Ministry of violating his human rights.
  • Breivik claims that the isolation he has experienced since 2012 constitutes inhumane punishment under the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • He is advocating for an easing of restrictions and more contact with other inmates.

Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a bombing and shooting rampage in 2011, launched his second attempt at suing the state on Monday, accusing the Justice Ministry of breaching his human rights.

Breivik, who has changed his name to Fjotolf Hansen, claims that the isolation he’s been placed under since he started serving his prison sentence in 2012 amounts to inhumane punishment under the European Convention on Human Rights. He failed in a similar attempt in 2016 and 2017, when his appeal was ultimately slapped down by the European Court of Justice.

His lawyer, Øystein Storrvik, told The Associated Press that Breivik’s mental health has suffered from additional years in solitary confinement since then, leaving him “suicidal” and dependent on antidepressants. Storrvik said he would argue for an easing of restrictions and more contact with other inmates, and that he believed 12 1/2 years in isolation was “unique” in recent European judicial history.

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Storrvik told the court on Monday that Breivik had hoped he could have had some form of “human relations” when he was moved from Skien prison to a spacious two-story complex in Ringerike prison near Oslo in 2022, but that the cells had been “turned into an isolation ward.”

Anders Behring Breivik in court

Anders Behring Breivik and attorney Marte Lindholm sit as the Oslo district court conducts his case on Jan. 8, 2024. Breivik, who slayed 77 people in an anti-Islamic bomb and gun rampage in 2011, appeared in court on Monday in a bid to sue the Norwegian state for breaching his human rights. (Cornelius Poppe/NTB Scanpix via AP)

In 2012, Breivik was convicted of mass murder and terrorism for a bombing that killed eight people in the government block in Oslo, and a shooting massacre on Utøya island where he gunned down 69 people at a holiday camp for youth activists from the center-left Labor Party.

Breivik, who described himself during the trial as an anti-Muslim crusader, pleaded not guilty, claiming he was acting in self defense to protect Norway from multiculturalism.

He received Norway’s most severe sentence at the time: detention for 21 years, with a provision to hold him indefinitely if he is still considered dangerous.

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“It is no exaggeration to say that if the court does not put its foot down, then he will be sentenced to life in prison and will never be able to relate to other people,” Storrvik told the court Monday, according to Norwegian news agency NTB.

Breivik entered the makeshift courtroom in the gymnasium of Ringerike prison wearing a dark suit and tie, flanked by Storrvik. He did not flash a Nazi salute as he has done in court appearances in the past.

The government rejects Breivik’s claim that his prison conditions violate human rights.

A number of relaxations have been made in the restrictions Breivik is subject to, according to government lawyer Andreas Hjetland, who represents the Justice Ministry in the case, but the conditions are necessary for security.

Breivik has so far shown himself to be unreceptive to rehabilitative work according to a written statement from Hjetland to the court ahead of the trial, which is scheduled to end on Friday.

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