Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik was jailed for a maximum term today when judges declared him sane enough to answer for the murder of 77 people last year, drawing a smirk of triumph from the self-styled warrior against Islam.
An unrepentant Breivik, 33, gave the Oslo court a stiff-armed, clench-fisted salute before being handed the steepest possible penalty, 21 years. His release, however, can be put off indefinitely should he still pose a threat to a liberal society left traumatised by his bomb and shooting rampage last July.
Justifying blasting a government building and gunning down dozens of teenagers at a summer camp as a service to a nation threatened by immigration, he had said only acquittal or death would be worthy outcomes. But his biggest concern was being declared insane - the sole verdict he had said he would appeal.
Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen dismissed a prosecution call for her to label Breivik mad, a ruling that would have seen him confined indefinitely to psychiatric care rather than prison.
Some survivors of the slaughter at the Labour party youth camp on Utoeya island had been keen to see Breivik held clearly responsible for his actions - and to avoid the insanity verdict that would have triggered lengthy and traumatic appeal hearings.
For many Norwegians, still shocked by their bloodiest day since World War Two, the details were academic, however.
"He is getting what he deserves," said Alexandra Peltre, 18, whom Breivik shot in the thigh on Utoeya. "This is karma striking back at him. I do not care if he is insane or not, as long as he gets the punishment that he deserves."
Breivik, who had surrendered to police on the island without a fight, admitted blowing up the Oslo government headquarters with a fertiliser bomb, killing eight, on Friday, July 22, 2011, then shooting 69 at the ruling party's summer youth camp.
Dressed in a black suit with a tie and still sporting the under-chin beard familiar from the 10 weeks of hearings that ended in June, Breivik smirked when he entered the courtroom and gave his now familiar, far-right salute when his handcuffs were removed. He smiled again as the judge read out the verdict.
He will not appeal, his lawyer said. "He told me he will accept this verdict," Geir Lippestad told Reuters.
A lawyer for some victims and their families said they, too, were satisfied: "I am pleased, although that's not really the right word, and relieved. This is what we hoped for," said Mette Yvonne Larsen, who represented some of those affected in court.
"I have already received many messages from clients telling me this is justice served and they are happy it's over and will never have to see him again."
The killings shook the nation of five million which had prided itself as a safe haven from much of the world's troubles, raising questions about the prevalence of far-right views in a country where oil wealth has attracted rising immigration.
Breivik will now be kept in isolation inside Ila Prison on the outskirts of Oslo inside relatively spacious quarters that include a separate exercise room, a computer and a television.
He had described an insane verdict as "a fate worse than death". Were he to have been found insane and decided to appeal, the entire trial would have had to be repeated.
Breivik justified his killing spree arguing that the centre-left Labour party is deliberately destroying the nation by encouraging Muslim immigration. His views, spread over the internet and aired during the trial, drew support from a few in Europe but even most of the hardest right-wing fringe groups kept their distance from the self-confessed mass killer.
Although his victims were mostly teenagers, with some as young as 14, he rejected being called a child murderer, arguing that his victims were brainwashed "cultural Marxists" whose political activism would adulterate pure Norwegian blood.
He stalked his victims dressed as a policeman, tricking them into thinking he was the help sent from the shore after the initial attack. He then shot them from close range before finishing them with a shot to the head.
"I stand by what I have done and I would still do it again." he said during his court testimony.
Some Norwegians now believe their country must draw on the experience to debate issues like immigration as their oil wealth attracts large numbers of foreign workers.
These are being discussed more openly after the killings by Breivik, who believed the government's immigration policies were adulterating "Norwegian blood" and leading to war with Muslims.
One team of court-appointed psychiatrists concluded he was psychotic while another came to the opposing conclusion. To make the ruling more difficult, several other experts who testified described a slew of mental conditions Breivik probably suffered.
Still, polls showed that around 70 per cent of Norway's public thought such a complex attack could not have been carried out by a madman and Breivik had to bear responsibility
Breivik has said he would accept a sane verdict, but derided a jail term as "pathetic", and said acquittal or execution were the only reasonable outcomes.
A commission investigating the attack earlier this month concluded that all of part of it could have been prevented and intelligence, police and government blunders likely cost lives.
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