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Norway Has Given Their Country’s Most Notorious Mass Murderer Permission to Try to Sue Them

The same man who killed 77 people in two bloody attacks in 2011 is now suing Norway for allegedly violating his rights in prison.

Self confessed mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik raises his fist in a right wing salute after being sentenced to 21 years in prison, in court room 250 at Oslo District Court on August 24, 2012. An Oslo court today found Anders Behring Breivik guilty of "acts of terror" and sentenced him to 21 years in prison for his killing spree last year that left 77 people dead. Breivik today dismissed his sentence of 21 years in jail by declaring the Oslo court "illegitimate", but also said he would not appeal the sentence. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN        (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/GettyImages)
Self confessed mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik raises his fist in a right wing salute after being sentenced to 21 years in prison, in court room 250 at Oslo District Court on August 24, 2012. An Oslo court today found Anders Behring Breivik guilty of "acts of terror" and sentenced him to 21 years in prison for his killing spree last year that left 77 people dead. Breivik today dismissed his sentence of 21 years in jail by declaring the Oslo court "illegitimate", but also said he would not appeal the sentence. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/GettyImages)

In 2011, Anders Breivik killed 77 people and injured hundreds of others, mainly children, when he detonated a car bomb in Oslo, Norway and then attacked a summer camp on the island of Utoya.

Now, he’s suing Norway for allegedly violating his human rights in prison.

In 2011, Anders Breivik killed 77 people and injured hundreds of others, mainly children, when he detonated a car bomb in Oslo, Norway and then attacked a summer camp on the island of Utoya.

Now, he’s suing Norway for allegedly violating his human rights in prison.

The mass murderer and self-declared nationalist is serving a 21-year prison sentence, much of which he has spent in solitary confinement. According to him, that level of isolation qualifies as torture under the European Convention on Human Rights. He first announced his intention to sue the state for mistreatment earlier this year, but Norwegian authorities did not give him the right to proceed with the case until this month.

This isn’t the first time he’s lodged complaints about his treatment in prison: in 2012, Breivik complained to prison services that his coffee was too cold, his bread didn’t come with butter, and that he wasn’t allowed to use moisturizer on his dry skin.

Earlier this fall, just two months after he was admitted to the University of Oslo, he wrote in a letter to Norwegian and Swedish media outlets that the stress of solitude made it more difficult for him to complete his coursework. In Norway, so long as prisoners are admitted on their own merits, they are free to pursue an education from their cell. Unlike other students at the university, Breivik does not attend class and is not allowed to use the internet, but instead works exclusively with a contact at the university.

But Breivik reportedly threatened to starve himself to death in Skien prison, where he is being held, if he was not released from isolation.

“Studying and corresponding is not humanly possible under such circumstances, and this applies to anyone who is isolated under such conditions,” Breivik wrote.

In February, Breivik’s lawyers argued that keeping him in such solitude would only further harm his chances of recovery.

“This is not about him getting an easy punishment…but he cannot sit in isolation forever,” his lawyer Geri Lippestad told Norway’s Dagbladet newspaper. “He now wants contact with other inmates. The longer he sits isolated, the greater the chance that he will be harmed by it.”

Norway’s prisons pride themselves on rehabilitation, but Breivik’s case is unique. Although he is technically serving the maximum sentence for his crimes, he cannot be released to the public if he still deemed a danger to society. His 2011 attack was the most deadly in peacetime in Norway since World War II.

In 2011, former Labor Party youth leader Eskil Pedersen said it was hard to keep seeing Breivik in the media, but that there was some consolation in knowing he would likely never be released. “We take some pride in not changing our system because of him. So okay, he goes to university, but he won’t leave prison and he won’t get to use it for anything.”

Now the question that remains is whether or not Breivik will be given permission to actually appear in court. The new case, which will be brought to court in March, will take place in a special courtroom built in 2012 to accommodate media and audience members who wished to attend Breivik’s criminal trial. Breivik’s attack was the most deadly peacetime attack since World War II, and the government could request he appear in court by way of video conference instead.

But for Breivik, just getting permission to move forward with the trial is a big success. Some of his earlier complaints, including that he had to rush to brush his teeth and shave each morning, and that the switch for his television and light are outside of his cell, went ignored.

Photo Credit: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

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