Norwegian court jails mass killer Breivik for 21 years

OSLO, Aug 24, 2012 (AFP) – A Norwegian court said Friday it judged Anders Behring Breivik to be legally sane because his hateful ravings reflected his extreme rightwing world view rather than psychotic delusions.

Presiding judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen said the court considered Breivik to suffer from anti-social and “narcissistic personality characteristics” but not psychosis, as one expert team had found.

“The court finds that the evidentiary requirement for criminal sanity is met,” said Arntzen, who had earlier read out the sentence of 21 years’ prison, the maximum term and one that can be extended indefinitely.

The judge said the court had failed to confirm some classic symptoms of schizophrenia, such as full paranoid delusions, hallucinations or the use of neologisms or made-up terms and phrases.

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Arntzen, in a lengthy review of the judgement, said the five-member panel had made up its own mind after hearing two contradictory reports on the mental health of Breivik, who killed 77 people in a bomb and gun rampage last year.

She also said the panel was not swayed by the view of Breivik himself, who had said that being committed to a psychiatric ward would be “worse than death itself” but smiled when he was sentenced to jail.

The first assessment found that Breivik suffered from grandiose or paranoid delusions, as he fantasised about sparking World War III, ruling Norway, deporting all Muslims and DNA-testing all Norwegians.

The experts had cited his comments to police that he was “taking part in a civil war, deciding who will live or die, and was part of a takeover of Europe”.

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A second assessment process, however, during which the judge said Breivik had “toned down” his comments, found that he was not psychotic, but suffered from a “narcissistic personality disorder”.

The judge said that according to medical definitions of paranoid schizophrenia, people often have bizarre delusions such as “being able to control the weather or being in contact with aliens”.

Breivik’s rantings, however, were not based on hallucinations but were politically motivated statements, the court found.

She said the court considered that the killer’s views were shaped by a “rightwing extremist subculture”, pointing out that he had been politically active since age 18, when he joined an anti-immigrant party.

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The judge said that the first psychologists’ team had judged that, with his talk of looming civil war, the “intensity of ideas can indicate delusions”.

“An alternative interpretation would be to understand his intensity as some sort of fanatical and rightwing extremist world view… with a grandiose and narcissistic personality,” said Arntzen.

The court agreed Breivik turned into a recluse as he lived with his mother in recent years, but said this was largely due to his secretive planning of massive terrorist attacks and was therefore “rationally anchored”.

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