Norway’s government will appeal a court ruling in favor of mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik in his lawsuit against the state over his treatment behind bars, the country’s justice minister said Tuesday.
The official, Anders Anundsen, said in a statement on the Justice Ministry’s website that he had asked the attorney general’s office to appeal the ruling.
Last week, the Oslo district court found that the 37-year-old’s incarceration in a high-security prison, where he is held in solitary confinement, violated Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, prohibiting “inhuman or degrading treatment.”
The court ruled that his conditions must be eased but did not give concrete directives on how.
It also ordered the government to pay legal costs of 331,000 kroner ($40,600) for the far-right terrorist, who killed 77 people in a shooting rampage and bombing attack in 2011.
The court rejected Breivik’s claim that the state had violated Article 8 of the convention, which guarantees respect for “private life” and correspondence.
The ruling outlined areas of concern in regard to the conditions of Breivik’s confinement, which, taken as a whole, constituted a breach of his rights.
These included the duration of his isolation and inadequate consideration of the mental impact of the regime. It also said that routine nude checks of Breivik were not sufficiently justified from a security perspective.
Breivik held in isolation
The suit was heard over four days last month inside a gymnasium at Skien prison, which was temporarily converted into a courtroom.
Appearing in public for the first time since his 2012 trial, Breivik gave testimony, alleging that his isolation in prison constituted a “sadistic” attempt by Norwegian authorities to kill him.
Since his arrest in 2011, he has been separated from other inmates, and virtually his only visits have been with professionals, who meet with him separated behind a glass screen.
His incoming and outgoing mail is also censored to prevent him from building networks among far-right extremists and inciting sympathizers to violence.
Observers expressed concern that Breivik — who gave a Nazi salute on his first day in court — was using his court appearance as a platform to publicize his extremist ideology.
Breivik’s killing spree on July 22, 2011, was the deadliest attack in Norway since World War II.
Eight people were killed when a bomb he planted detonated in Oslo before he methodically shot to death 69 young people at a Labor Party youth camp on Utoya island. He blamed the party for the rise of multiculturalism in Norway.
Bjorn Ihler, one of the survivors of the Utoya massacre, said on Twitter last week that the ruling was a “sign we have a working court system, respecting human rights even under extreme conditions.”
“Our best weapon in fighting extremism is humanity. The ruling in the Breivik case shows that we acknowledge the humanity of extremists too,” he wrote.