A Norwegian court ruled on Tuesday that far-right attacker Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011, must remain in prison, saying there remains “an obvious risk” he could return to behavior that led up to the massacre.
Breivik, an anti-Muslim neo-Nazi, killed 77 people in Norway’s worst peacetime atrocity in July 2011.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
Last month, Breivik faced a parole hearing before the three-judge Telemark District Court where he professed white supremacist views and flashed Nazi salutes on the hearing’s opening day, while claiming to have renounced violence.
But the court said he remains a potential threat, saying Breivik could not be taken at his word when he said he would no longer commit acts of violence.
“The risk of violence is real and significant and equal to what it was when (Breivik) was first sentenced,” the district court said in a unanimous verdict.
“His stated assurances and word of honour have little value even if he were to mean what he says at the time he says it,” the judges wrote.
Based on the court’s findings, Breivik is unlikely at this time to be able to adjust to life outside of prison, and the risk of recidivism is significant, the judges wrote.
‘Very dangerous man’
Breivik is serving Norway’s maximum 21-year sentence for setting off a bomb in Oslo’s government district and carrying out a shooting massacre at a summer camp for left-wing youth activists.
He was declared sane at his trial, although the prosecution argued that he was psychotic.
He did not appeal his sentence but unsuccessfully sued the government for human rights violations for denying him the right to communicate with sympathisers.
Breivik could be held longer than 21 years under a provision that allows authorities to keep criminals in prison for as long as they are considered a menace to society.
During last month’s hearing, prosecutor Hulda Karlsdottir argued Breivik still is “a very dangerous man” and “has not shown any genuine remorse in court”.
Norwegian news agency NTB quoted Karlsdottir welcoming the ruling as “well-founded”.
A psychiatrist who has observed him since 2012 testified that Breivik cannot be trusted while a prison official told the hearing that “there is an imminent danger” that, if released, Breivik would again commit serious crimes.
Breivik’s lawyer Oystein Storrvik said his client should be released to prove that he is reformed and no longer a threat to society, and that is not possible to prove while he is in total isolation.
Storrvik called it “a paradox that a person is treated so badly in prison that he never gets better. He never gets out.”
Tuesday’s ruling can be appealed. Norwegian broadcaster TV2 cited Storrvik saying Breivik would appeal the ruling. The lawyer was not immediately available for comment.