LONDON -– An Oslo court found Anders Behring Breivik criminally guilty Friday in the killings of 77 people last year in Norway, opting to send the right-wing militant to prison rather than declare him insane and commit him to psychiatric care.
Breivik, 33, faces at least 21 years in prison for the twin attacks he carried out in July 2011. That sentence can be repeatedly extended if authorities determine that he remains a danger to society.
Breivik smiled as a summary of the verdict was read Friday morning. He had freely confessed to planting a deadly car bomb in the center of Oslo and then methodically hunting down and killing 69 people, mostly teenagers, at a political youth camp on the island of Utoya. He said the attacks were an attempt to save Norway from multiculturalism and from a Muslim takeover.
The highly anticipated verdict came after two months of deliberation following a 10-week trial that gripped the world’s media. Throughout the trial, Breivik showed no remorse for his killing frenzy, shedding tears only when he watched a propaganda video that he had made to spread his anti-Islam
Two teams of court-ordered psychiatrists presented conflicting views on his sanity. One declared him delusional, a paranoid schizophrenic with a warped view of reality, but a second evaluation found him to be in his right mind.
The five judges who reached the verdict agreed with the latter view. Breivik himself wanted to be declared sane, fearing a verdict of insanity would mean that his views could be dismissed as the rantings of a madman.
Norwegians were stunned by the ferocity of the attacks and by the extremism of Breivik’s anti-immigrant views, which he posted in a lengthy, rambling manifesto on the Internet shortly before the massacre. In it, he urged “indigenous Europeans” to rise up and use violence to repel the Muslims he said were overrunning the continent. He deplored those who advocated multiculturalism as collaborators in “cultural suicide.”
That Breivik planted the car bomb in Oslo's government district and cold-bloodedly shot 69 people on Utoya was never in question during his trial. Breivik freely acknowledged the killings, but denied that they were a criminal act.
-- Henry Chu
Photo: Confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik arrives in court in Oslo on Friday morning. Credit: Odd Andersen / AFP/Getty Images