With today’s sentence over Anders Behring Breivik – 21 years in prison with an option to extend 5 years at a time – I sincerely hope we have heard the last of this particular maniac.
21 years in prison is the longest possible prison sentence in Norway where it is not possible to give a life sentence (or for that matter a death sentence). The only exception being a so-called “forvaring” (best translated as “preventive detention”) sentence, which is normally given to insane or otherwise dangerous criminals and means that they are locked up for an unspecified length of time, until they are found to be no longer dangerous to others. The sentence in this case is a cross between the two – 21 years in prison plus time-unlimited detention.
What bothers me is how the court has found that Breivik is not insane. In my world, sane people don’t set off bombs in their major cities before going out to shoot defenseless teenagers. And they sure as hell don’t plan such acts years in advance.
The court’s reluctance to declare Breivik insane also increases the risk that he may gather a following. Nobody wants to follow in the steps of a maniac but I fear that there are enough neo-Nazis and supremacists around who might follow an imprisoned mass-murderer if they can convince themselves that he is a misunderstood freedom fighter.
(OK, if anyone can convince themselves of this, maybe they can also convince themselves that he isn’t insane even if the court says so. But still, I’d rather have the extra obstacle to anyone regarding him as some kind of hero.)
Whatever. With today’s sentence, I just hope that we have heard the last of Mr. Breivik. Lock him up, throw away the key, and forget him. He murdered 77 people in order to get press coverage, and I think the press has given him quite enough. Time to give him what he dreads the most: