A lawsuit launched by far-right fanatic and mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik accusing the state of abusing his human rights has opened in Norway.
Breivik, who killed 77 people in a bombing and shooting rampage in 2011, appeared in a court set up in the high-security jail in which he is serving his sentence on Monday. By accusing Norway’s Ministry of Justice of breaching his human rights, he hopes to force the authorities to end his years in isolation.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
The 44-year-old killer’s lawyer laid out an argument that the conditions of his detention violated his human rights.
“He has been isolated for about 12 years,” Oeystein Storrvik told the hearing. “He is only in contact with professionals, not with other inmates.”
In earlier court filings, Storrvik had argued the isolation had left Breivik suicidal and dependent on the anti-depression medication Prozac.
Breivik claims the isolation he has faced 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 -17, when his appeal was denied by the European Court of Justice.
The extremist, who distributed copies of a manifesto before his attack, is suing the state and also asking the court to lift restrictions on his correspondence with the outside world.
He killed eight people with a car bomb in Oslo then gunned down 69 others, most of them teenagers, at a Labour Party youth camp. It was Norway’s worst peacetime atrocity.
Breivik spends his time in a dedicated section of Ringerike prison, the third prison in which he has been held. His separated section includes a training room, a kitchen, a TV room and a bathroom, pictures from a visit last month by news agency NTB showed.
He is allowed to keep three budgerigars as pets and let them fly freely in the area, NTB reported.
Lawyers representing the justice ministry say Breivik must be kept apart from the rest of the prison population because of the continuing security threat he poses.
They said in their court filing that his isolation was “relative” given that he has contacts with guards, a priest, health professionals and, until recently, an outside volunteer. Breivik has said he no longer wishes to see the latter.
He also sees two inmates for an hour every other week, the lawyers pointed out, noting that the control over his contact with the outside world is justified by the risk that he will inspire others to commit violent acts.
“Specifically, this applies to contacts with far-right circles, including people who wish to establish contact with Breivik as a result of the terrorist acts on 22 July 2011,” they said in the filing.
Breivik was cited as an inspiration by Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 people in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019.
In this latest case, the judge’s verdict – there is no jury – will be issued in coming weeks.
Breivik was sentenced in 2012 to 21 years of detention, with a provision allowing him to be held indefinitely if he is still considered dangerous.