This piece of news will be astonishing to American readers: Anders Behring Breivik, who murdered 77 people in a gun and bomb massacre last year, many of them children, was sentenced to 21 years. Al Jazeera reports:
Guilt has never been a question in the trial as Breivik described in chilling detail how he hunted down his victims,
some as young as 14, with a shot to the body then one or more bullets to the head.
The killings shook this nation of five million people which had prided itself as a safe haven from much of the world's troubles, raising questions about the prevalence of far right views as immigration rises.
The trial and a commission of investigation into the country's worst violence since World War II have kept Breivik
on the front pages for the past 13 months and survivors said the verdict would finally bring some closure.
"It has been a tough year ... but I don't want to be Utoeya-Nicoline for the rest of my life," said Nicoline Bjerge
Schie, a survivor of the shooting.
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.
Updated: Under Norwegian law, the maximum penalty for homicide is 21 years and for crimes against humanity, 30 years. At the end of that sentence, people who still present a risk can be held for additional time, in increments of five years, as preventive detention.
It's worth remembering that Norwegian prisons are very different from North American ones; they are well-furnished, moderately populated and safe. How you feel about European justice sentencing a mass murderer the way some American courts sentence people for possession with intent to sell tells you a lot about where you stand on the correctional continuum.
Props to Chad Goerzen for the link.