The trial of Anders Behring Breivik represents one of the greatest tests of human justice in decades. Breivik stood in an Oslo courtroom this week and declared: “I admit to the actions, but not to the guilt.” The “actions,” of course, were the killing of 77 people on July 22, 2011. Eight were killed in a car bomb in Oslo. Breivik then shot 69 people to death on Utoya Island — most of them teenagers and young people involved in a summer camp sponsored by one of Norway’s major political parties.
Breivik has celebrated his murderous actions in court, calling his massacre the most “spectacular” event in recent European history. Having admitted to the killings, Breivik told the court, “I would do it again.”
He may have an opportunity to do so. Norwegian law allows Breivik to be imprisoned for only 21 years, even if found guilty of all 77 killings. Officials in Norway have attempted to assure their fellow citizens that Breivik is unlikely to be released, but the law allows criminals to be held in captivity after their sentence only on psychological grounds that represent a threat, and Breivik has been found sufficiently sane to stand trial.
How can this be? What sane nation would allow for a maximum sentence of 21 years in prison for premeditated murder — much less the calculated killing of 77 people?….
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