SKIEN PRISON, Norway: Mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik obeyed a judge’s orders not to make a Nazi salute as he arrived in court Wednesday on the second day of his lawsuit against the Norwegian state.
The right-wing extremist, who killed 77 people in 2011, created a sensation Tuesday when he appeared with a shaven head and made a Hitler-style salute as hearings began to determine whether his prison conditions are “inhuman.”
He was later called to order by judge Helen Andenaes Sekulic, who asked him to not repeat the gesture during the four days of proceedings in the makeshift courtroom in the gym of Skien Prison, where he is being kept in isolation.
“I will try to take that into account,” replied Breivik, after initially objecting that it was a Norse salute used by his ancestors a thousand years ago, a claim yet to be verified.
In a 2014 letter to Agence France-Presse, Breivik described himself as a “militant nationalist” and said he had pledged his “allegiance to National Socialism.”
His lawyer, Oystein Storrvik, later lamented the salute, as many had voiced fears that the 37-year-old would use the proceedings to grandstand his extremist views.
After the first court day focused on opening statements from the two sides, Wednesday was to hear Breivik’s own testimony about his life in the southern Norwegian prison.
He is suing the state for breaching two clauses of the European Convention on Human Rights, one which prohibits “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”, and one which guarantees the right of respect for “private and family life” and “correspondence.”
The state has rejected the charges.
While Breivik has access to three cells and resources including a television and games console, Breivik’s lawyer has called his almost five-year isolation “inhuman” and complained that his letters are censored.
The case is being broadcast on Norwegian television, but his testimony is not being aired out of respect to the families of the victims and the survivors, and to prevent him from sending any coded signals to his supporters.
Breivik is serving a maximum 21-year sentence for killing eight people in a bomb attack outside a government building in Oslo in July 2011, then murdering another 69 people, most of them teenagers, in a rampage at a Labour Youth camp on the island of Utoya.
The shooting spree lasted an hour and 13 minutes, as he methodically stalked and killed many of the 600 up-and-coming leaders of Labour, Norway’s dominant political party, which he blamed for the rise of multiculturalism.
His prison sentence can be extended if he is still considered a danger to society. AFP