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Far-right Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik gives Nazi salute at parole hearing

A memorial in Oslo in 2011 for victims of the mass killer Anders Behring Breivik. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)
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This report has been updated.

Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian man responsible for one of that country’s most heinous crimes in recent memory, gave a Nazi salute as he entered court Tuesday to argue for early release from his 21-year prison sentence, in a move that prosecutors oppose.

In July 2011, Breivik killed 77 people by setting off a bomb outside the prime minister’s office in Oslo and opening fire at a youth summer camp organized by the left-leaning Labor Party. The following year, he was given the maximum prison sentence permitted under Norwegian law after being convicted on terrorism and murder charges.

At the time, the judge ordered “preventive detention,” a measure reserved for criminals who are seen as dangers to society beyond the length of their sentence. That makes it unlikely that he will ever be released, though Breivik became eligible for parole after having served a decade in prison. His request to be released is being heard by a court after the Norwegian government rejected his application last year.

The hearing that began Tuesday is slated to run for three to four days. Breivik’s lawyer, Oystein Storrvik, had told the Associated Press that his client was not expected to show remorse, which was borne out: He carried signs into the hearing that read, “Stop your genocide against our white nations” and “Nazi-Civil-War.” The judge asked him to put them down while the prosecution spoke.

Norwegian prosecutors could not be immediately reached for comment early Tuesday. But Hulda Karlsdottir, the prosecutor in charge, told Reuters that the government believes Breivik’s continued imprisonment is necessary “to protect society.”

Breivik gives Nazi salute while complaining about 3-room cell

Breivik’s side is expected to argue that he is no longer dangerous, his attorney reportedly said, adding that contrition was not a factor in the hearing. A Swedish neo-Nazi leader is scheduled to testify on Breivik’s behalf, Storrvik added.

Addressing the court, Breivik argued that he had been “brainwashed” by online extremists pushing to “re-establish the Third Reich,” Reuters reported.

A national support group set up after the 2011 massacre said in a statement that while it is “prepared for a new round in court,” the case posed a “great burden for survivors, parents, and those affected.”

Since Breivik’s incarceration, the mass murderer has argued before Norwegian and European courts that his isolation in a three-room cell — equipped with video games, a DVD player, a typewriter, books, newspapers and exercise equipment — violated his rights.

His case against Norwegian authorities was ultimately shot down by a top European human rights tribunal. But his post-incarceration hearings have also been opportunities for him to trumpet his far-right leanings: He made Nazi salutes during court appearances in 2016 and 2017, paralleling his behavior at his 2012 trial.

Breivik’s crimes, which were carefully planned and detailed in his diary, have influenced other right-wing extremists around the world.

The shooter responsible for killing 51 people in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, allegedly suggested that he had been in “brief contact” with Breivik. And a former U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant, who is serving a 13-year prison sentence for allegedly planning a domestic terrorist attack, was said to have found inspiration from Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto.

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