Liesbeth van der Heide, August 25 2012

Yesterday, the judges of the Oslo District Court passed their final verdict, declaring Breivik to be sane and legally responsible for his acts, sentencing him to 21 years of prison with a minimum of 10 years. Judge Wenche Arntzen delivered the verdict at 10:00am telling the court the decision was unanimous. Prosecutors Inga Bejer Engh and Svein Holden had argued for an insanity verdict. Breivik himself wished to be found sane.

Anders Behring Breivik’s 21-year jail term closes Norway’s darkest chapter. The main reaction to the verdict was relief, both among victims and the rest of Norwegian society. Utøya survivor, Frida Holm Skoglund, 20, said: “I’m going to fully live the first day of the rest of my life.”

In practice this sentence of 21 years may mean that Breivik will be in prison for the rest of his life. His sentence will be reviewed for the first time after 10 years but could last his life out (‘forvaring’) as he is deemed to be a danger to society, as the sentence can be extended every 5 years. There is no limit to the number of times the 5-year timeframe can be extended.

Now the final verdict is known, we can look back at the trial and relate the verdict to our main research questions. To what extent does the verdict reverberate the classic goals of criminal justice: retribution, prevention, restoring democratic order and upholding the rule of law? And does the final verdict provide in the need for closure for Norwegian society – i.e. how does it affect the coping mechanisms in society?
Today we will be handing out surveys and interviewing people in Oslo to find an answer to those questions.