Opinion: The decision to deny Breivik’s parole was expected but his presence will be felt outside of Skien prison by many

Anders Behring Breivik - Øystein StorrvikPhoto: Ole Berg-Rusten / NTB
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The decision by the Telemark District Court to deny parole for Anders Breivik came as no real shock. Yet is the media circus surrounding his parole hearing both bad for his victims’ families and good for him?

Parole denied for convicted mass murderer, terrorist and Neo-Nazi

The Telemark District Court ruled, on Monday, that Anders Breivik was not eligible for parole. The Court denied the possibility of parole to the man responsible for the largest loss of Norwegian life since the Second World War. The convicted terrorist, neo-Nazi, and mass murderer has appealed the decision but there is no word yet when the appeal hearing will be heard.

Breivik had, under Norwegian law, served the maximum amount of time allowed before a parole hearing (10 years) and has spent most of this time in isolation at Skien prison. The parole hearing was closely followed by all national media and made news the world over.

The parole hearing rested on whether Breivik’s defense team could show that he had actually changed – whether the man in the court was on a path of remorse, a changed man who acknowledged that he alone was responsible for his actions and crimes. Instead, we got a man who made a Nazi salute when he first arrived and claimed that he was “brainwashed” and therefore not responsible for the July 22 attacks.

The Telemark District Court ruled that he had not changed enough for the possibility of parole. He was the same dangerous man he had been a decade before.

Psychologically little change in over a decade

For the state prosecution, this parole hearing was nothing more than a publicity stunt by Breivik. The hearing provided a man with nothing but time to count to focus his attentions on something other than his thoughts. Huld Karlsdóttir, the State Prosecutor, hinged her argument against parole on the fact that Breivik had not changed and should still be considered very much a danger to society.

This view was reinforced by Randi Rosenqvist, a psychiatrist who has carried out several assessments of Breivik. She told the court that there had been no significant changes from the last publically known psychological assessment of Breivik back in 2016. He was still ever the pragmatist and his newfound aversion to violence was nothing other than sheer fabrication. He was in 2011, 2016, and now in 2022 a clear and present danger to Norwegian society.

A decade spent in prison had not caused any sort of introspection, an honest admission of the responsibility of his actions, or any significant psychological change at all.

A day of deep emotions for the victim’s families, friends and loved ones

Even though the judgment was almost a formality, the ruling that Breivik would stay in prison must have brought a sense of relief to the many victim’s families, friends, and loved ones. Nothing could be worse than the fear – however small and unrealistic it might be – that Breivik could somehow deceive the court and be allowed to be released, in whatever probationary form, back into society.

Seeing Breivik again in court, with the eyes of a nation focused on him (along with a multitude of video cameras and photographic lenses too) must have stirred up mixed emotions for many whose suffering has not stopped since July 22, 2011. The muted joy of his parole denial must have been met with a stirring of deep sadness, pain, and grief for the victims lost that summer day more than a decade ago. Anger too surely reared its head that this man, this mass murderer, was hamming it up for the press with his Nazi salutes and messages of “white genocide.” This anger was further compounded by his ridiculous claims that he was “brainwashed” and ordered to commit the July 22 atrocities.

Not only was this man allowed a national and international spotlight (however briefly) but he also defended his actions by saying that the children (mostly young teenagers but still possessing the innocence and optimism of youth) were political leaders and therefore dispatchable.

This nation’s most hated man since Quisling?

The parole hearing is over for now. Breivik’s defense team has already launched an appeal but this will not happen in the foreseeable future. The major outcome of the parole hearing was that Breivik was shown to not have changed at all and should still be considered a threat to Norwegian life and society. Yet there is still an unanswered question that stretches back to 2011. How do we, as a nation, deal with Breivik? How can those in the media report on his further legal proceedings without giving him the oxygen of publicity that he so craves?

He is surely the most hated man in this country since Vidkun Quisling’s actions made his name a noun for traitorous treachery. Yet to simply label him a “monster” – even though the acts he committed on July 22 were indeed monstrous – is too simple, too easy. Breivik is a human. His actions committed over a decade ago should be a constant reminder to society about the depths of human depravity, detachment, and devilry. Rather than labeling him a “monster,” the atrocities he committed on July 22 should be studied and examined as the attack on society and democracy that they were. By studying his depravity future generations can see the united response, full of compassion and love, that the nation showed in response.

In its ruling, the Telemark District Court said that “the accused appeared to be devoid of empathy and compassion for the victims of the terror.” There is the real possibility that Breivik will die an old man in prison before he gains any form of empathy or compassion for his victims.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Norway Today unless specifically stated.

About the author:

Jonathan is a lover of the written word. He believes the best way to combat this polarization of news and politics, in our time, is by having a balanced view. Both sides of the story are equally important. He also enjoys traveling and live music.

Source: #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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