The Corner

If Convicted, Anders Breivik Will Be Sentenced to 21 Years in Prison for 77 Murders

Anders Breivik has claimed “self-defense” and pleaded not guilty, according to the BBC:

The man who carried out bomb and gun attacks in Norway last year which left 77 people dead has pleaded not guilty at the start of his trial in Oslo.

Anders Behring Breivik attacked a youth camp organised by the governing Labour party on the island of Utoeya, after setting off a car bomb in the capital.

He told the court he “acknowledged” the acts committed, but said he did not accept criminal responsibility.

The prosecution earlier gave a detailed account of how each person was killed.

If the court decides he is criminally insane, he will be committed to psychiatric care; if he is judged to be mentally stable, he will be jailed.

In the latter case, he faces a sentence of 21 years, which could be extended to keep him behind bars for the rest of his life.

Under Norwegian law, the maximum prison sentence that a judge can impose on Breivik is 21 years, although this can be extended on an ad hoc basis if he is regarded still to be a threat when it has been completed. This works out at about 100 days in prison per murder, which — whether he remains a threat or not in 21 years’ time — falls spectacularly short of the mark. European nations find themselves in a difficult position these days: Having combined abolition of the death penalty with weak sentencing, it is now almost impossible for prosecutors to secure punishments that match the worst of crimes. John O’Sullivan had a thoughtful piece on the subject a few weeks ago.

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