Norwegian mass killer Breivik appears ahead of parole hearing
SKIEN, Norway (AP) — Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing extremist who killed 77 people in massacres in Norway in 2011, appeared before a parole hearing on Tuesday, apparently more focused on spreading white supremacist propaganda. than on obtaining an unlikely early release from prison.
Ten years ago, the Norwegian serial killer was sentenced to 21 years in prison for a bomb attack in Oslo and an armed rampage on the island of Utøya. This term can be extended as long as the court decides that Breivik is a danger to society.
But under Norwegian law Breivik, 42, can apply for parole after serving the first 10 years.
Breivik, sporting a three-day beard and a two-piece suit, walked into a prison gymnasium turned courtroom with white supremacist messages pinned to his blazer and bag. He holds up a sign with the same message.
As he did during his trial, he gave Nazi salutes as he entered on Tuesday. He also presented himself as the leader of a Norwegian neo-Nazi movement, suggesting he would use the parole hearing as an opportunity to air his racist views rather than seriously attempt an early release, which experts say , is anyway unlikely.
Prosecutor Hulda Karlsdottir said the hearing would focus on the continued danger posed by Breivik, who legally changed his name to Fjotolf Hansen in 2017. The terms of his incarceration would be “completely subordinate”, she said.
“The main subject here is the danger associated with the release,” she told the Telemark District Court.
Breivik listened without moving as she detailed the murders and named the victims. He once tried to comment on Karlsdottir’s description but was ordered not to interrupt by Judge Dag Bjørvik.
Breivik’s actions on Tuesday morning appeared to confirm the fears of survivors and the families of his victims that the hearing gave him a platform to voice his hateful views.
“The only thing I’m afraid of is if he gets the chance to speak freely and convey his extreme views to like-minded people,” Lisbeth Kristine Røyneland, who leads a group of support for families and survivors.
On July 22, 2011, after months of preparation, Breivik detonated a car bomb outside the government building in Oslo, killing eight people and injuring dozens. He then traveled to the island of Utøya, where he opened fire on the annual summer camp of the leftist Labor Party’s youth wing. Sixty-nine people were killed there, mostly teenagers, before Breivik surrendered to the police.
The court found him guilty the same year of terrorist acts after finding him criminally sane, rejecting the prosecution’s view that he was psychotic. Breivik did not appeal his conviction.
During his trial, he entered the courtroom daily saluting with a clenched fist and telling grieving relatives that he wished he had killed more. He tried to create a fascist party in prison and contacted like-minded extremists in Europe and the United States by mail. Prison officials seized many of these letters, fearing that Breivik could inspire others to carry out violent attacks.
He has always been isolated from other inmates at Skien prison, 100 kilometers (60 miles) southwest of Oslo, where he is being held.
The court is due to sit until Thursday and a decision is expected later this month – but experts say he is likely to remain behind bars as he has shown no remorse.
Ahead of the hearing, Randi Rosenqvist, the psychiatrist who has been following Breivik since 2012, said she couldn’t “detect any big changes in how Breivik is functioning” since his criminal trial when he bragged about the scale of his massacre, or his 2016 human rights case, when he raised his hand in a Nazi salute.
“In principle and in practice, a person seeking parole should show remorse and show understanding why such acts cannot be repeated,” she said.
Olsen reported from Copenhagen, Denmark.