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Breivik's acceptance of prison sentence brings relief to Norway (+video)

Anders Behring Breivik, who was convicted of twin terror attacks last summer that killed 77 people, announced he would not appeal his sentence of 21 years in prison.

By Correspondent / August 24, 2012

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik gestures as he leaves the courtroom after the Oslo Court delivered the verdict of his trial in Oslo, Norway, August 24. Breivik was jailed for a maximum term on Friday when judges declared him sane enough to answer for the murder of 77 people last summer.

Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix/Reuters

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Oslo

Convicted Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik announced he would not appeal today’s guilty verdict for killing 77 people in a combined car bomb attack and shooting rampage last year, putting an end to an emotionally fraught 13 months for survivors and victims' families, and the country as a whole. 

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After the seven-hour-plus reading of the historic verdict in Oslo District Court, which sentenced him to 21 years in prison, Breivik said he did not want to "legitimize this court" by either accepting or appealing the verdict. “I want to apologize to all militant nationalists in Norway and Europe,” he added, prompting chuckles in the court.

After being cut short by a visibly irritated Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen, Breivik clarified via consultation with his defense attorney Geir Lippestad that he would not appeal the verdict. Mr. Lippestad later added during a press conference that Breivik had not signaled that he wanted to take the case to a higher court, such as the European Court of Human Rights.

Oslo public prosecutor Svein Holden also announced during a press conference that his office would not appeal the verdict. He said he regarded the basis for the verdict as “thorough” and partly based its decision on a desire to avoid further "burden" for survivors and victims’ families.

The decision by both sides to accept the verdict puts an end to the uncertainty over the fate of Norway’s most notorious criminal, who might have avoided jail time if the court had found him insane. Victims and their families were dreading the possibility of the case being dragged out further through an appeal.

Breivik’s evasion of criminal responsibility was a real possibility after two forensic psychiatric reports came to opposite conclusions. The prosecution sought to have Breivik be found insane because there were doubts over his mental competence, while the defense, at Breivik's insistence, argued that he was sane.

In the end, he was found sane and sentenced to the maximum prison time of 21 years’ preventive detention for terrorist acts because there was a considerable danger of repetition. If he is still deemed a risk after that, his prison time can be extended in five-year intervals indefinitely.  

“Norway will still have a population of different ethnic backgrounds, different cultures, and different religions” when Breivik is finished with his sentence at age 53, said Arne Lyng, one of the two professional judges, reading the court's decision to place him in preventive detention. “He has said he will still continue his battle behind (prison) walls."

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