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Mass killer back in court attempting to sue Norway for alleged human rights breaches

Anders Behring Breivik and attorney Marte Lindholm sits, as the Oslo district court conducts his case in a gymnasium at Ringerike prison, in Ringerike, Norway, Monday, Jan. 8,
Anders Behring Breivik and attorney Marte Lindholm sits, as the Oslo district court conducts his case in a gymnasium at Ringerike prison, in Ringerike, Norway, Monday, Jan. 8, Copyright Cornelius Poppe/NTB Scanpix via AP
Copyright Cornelius Poppe/NTB Scanpix via AP
By Euronews with AP
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Anders Behring Breivik is claiming his prison life in solitary confinement is illegal.

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Convicted mass murderer Anders Breivik appeared in court on Monday in a second attempt to sue the Norwegian state for allegedly breaching his human rights.

Breivik, a right-wing extremist who killed 77 people in a bomb and gun rampage, appeared before a judge in Oslo claiming his solitary confinement since being imprisoned in 2012 amounts to inhumane treatment under the European Convention of Human Rights.

Norway favours rehabilitation over retribution - and Breivik is held in a two-story complex with a kitchen, dining room and TV room with an Xbox, several armchairs and black and white pictures of the Eiffel Tower on the wall.

He also has a fitness room with weights, treadmill and rowing machine, while three parakeets fly around the complex.

Mourners push the coffin of Bano Abobakar Rashid, 18, the first victim of the shooting rampage at Utoeya to be buried, at a church in Nesodden, near Oslo, Norway in 2011
Mourners push the coffin of Bano Abobakar Rashid, 18, the first victim of the shooting rampage at Utoeya to be buried, at a church in Nesodden, near Oslo, Norway in 2011Lefteris Pitarakis/AP/File

Even so, his lawyer, Øystein Storrvik, says it is impossible for Breivik - who now goes by the name Fjotolf Hansen - to have any meaningful relationships with anyone from the outside world. 

He adds preventing his client from sending letters is another breach of his human rights.

A similar claim made by Breivik in 2016 was accepted, but the case was later overturned in a higher court. It was then rejected by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). 

The killer sought parole in 2022 but was judged to have shown no signs of rehabilitation.

On 22 July 2011, Breivik killed eight people in a bomb attack in Oslo before heading to a youth camp for a centre-left political group on Utøya island. Dressed as a police officer, he stalked and gunned down 69 people, mostly teenagers.

The following year, Breivik was handed the maximum 21-year sentence with a clause - rarely used in Norway's justice system - that he could be held indefinitely if he was still considered a danger to society.

Since then, he has shown no remorse for his attacks, which he portrayed as a crusade against multiculturalism in Norway.

Many regard Breivik’s flirtations with the courts as an attempt to draw attention to his cause and even bask once again in the international limelight. He was accused of doing this during his criminal trial.

Lisbeth Kristine Røyneland, who leads a support group for survivors of the attacks and bereaved families, says she is “satisfied with the decision” not to allow a live stream of his comments from this court case.

The state rejects Breivik’s claims of human rights offences. 

In a letter to the court, government attorney Andreas Hjetland wrote that Breivik had so far shown himself to be unreceptive to rehabilitative work. 

It was “therefore difficult to imagine which major reliefs in terms of sentencing are possible and justifiable”.

The trial will be held on Monday in the gymnasium in Ringerike prison, a stone’s throw from Utøya.

Any person who feels that their rights have been violated by a state can take their case to the ECHR.

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If the court finds that to be the case, it can rule against a state and order them to pay compensation. 

However, the court is not empowered to overrule national decisions or annul national laws.

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