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Mass Murderer Anders Breivik Gives Nazi Salute as He Appeals Solitary Confinement

The far-right terrorist, who was sentenced to 21 years in solitary confinement for killing 77 people in Norway in 2011, is arguing that his incarceration amounts to "torture."

by Pierre-Louis Caron
Mar 15 2016, 8:55pm

Photo by Lise Aserud/EPA

Anders Behring Breivik — the man who killed 77 people when he detonated a bomb in central Oslo and went on a shooting rampage on the small island of Utoya in 2011 — is back in court, this time as a plaintiff.

Dressed in a dark suit and sporting a shaved head, the 37-year-old arrived in court Tuesday in handcuffs and escorted by four prison guards. After the guards released him from his handcuffs, Breivik gave a Nazi salute to the room before sitting down next to his attorney. He had also displayed Nazi salutes during his trial in 2012.

The far-right terrorist, who was sentenced to 21 years in solitary confinement for the killings, is arguing that his incarceration amounts to "torture."

The hearing, which is being broadcast live by several Norwegian and Swedish news outlets, is taking place inside the Skien prison gymnasium, which was converted into a courtroom. It is expected to last two days.

Breivik's attorney Øystein Storrvik has said that his client's jail isolation, now in its fifth year, is worse than the death penalty and violates his human rights. Storrvik argued that Breivik was being subjected to "degrading treatment," that would leave him "scarred."

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According to Norwegian authorities, Breivik is being kept in solitary confinement because he is considered highly dangerous. The killer has not expressed any remorse over the 2011 killings. In fact, on the day he was sentenced, Breivik apologized to "nationalist militants" for "not executing more people."

On July 22, 2011, Breivik blew up a truck filled with fertilizer outside a government building in central Oslo, killing eight. He proceeded to a Labor youth summer camp on the island of Utoya, 25 miles north of the capital, where he carried out the worst massacre in Norway since World War II.

Disguised as a police officer, Breivik told organizers that he was there to patrol the island following the attack in Oslo. He then went on a shooting rampage, chasing young campers across the islands and firing into the crowd. Witnesses said they had seen him shooting at tents, at injured campers, and at those trying to swim away from the island.

"I saw the killer, two people started talking to him and two seconds later, they were dead. He was wearing a black uniform with red trimming. He really looked like a Nazi," said one of the survivors, who was hit in the shoulder by a bullet. "He was just one or two meters away from me, so close that I felt the heat from his weapon."

The slaughter lasted an hour and a half, before Breivik surrendered to police with no resistance.

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Since his arrest in July 2011, and his sentencing in August 2012, Breivik has had precious little contact with the outside world. His interactions with doctors, a priest and his attorney are carried out behind a thick glass window. Breivik's mother visited him once in jail before she died.

According to Swedish daily Aftonbladet, hundreds of letters penned by Breivik in jail were never sent, for fear the inmate was using them to communicate messages of "terror and violence."

Breivik has also been denied phone and Internet access in his cell, for fear he might communicate instructions to potential followers. Prior to the 2011 massacre, he wrote a 1,500-page nationalist manifesto against Islam, multiculturalism, and the "invasion of Europe."

His prison conditions were already criticized in a parliamentary report released in November 2015. Following his appeal, Breivik could potentially be granted more flexibility and access to prison activities.

If he is still considered a danger to society when his sentence ends in 2033, authorities may prolong his incarceration.

Follow Pierre-Louis Caron on Twitter: @pierrelouis_c

This article originally appeared on VICE News' French edition.

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