|Leniency toward a terrorist, a mockery of justice||
Norway boasts of its civilized and humane judicial system, although such a refined system enables a cold-blooded terrorist like Anders Behring Breivik to get away with the absurdly lenient sentence of 21 years in prison for his merciless slaughter of scores of teenagers, raising questions about the principles of justice which allow such a horrendous atrocity to be so lightly punished.
The Norwegian mass murderer’s name resurfaced in the news last November when the revelation of explicit details of the conditions of his imprisonment once again attracted attention to his case, reminding people about the exceedingly light sentence given to the confessed killer and ultimately obliging society to reflect on the age-old question of crime and punishment.
After a 10-week trial, on August 24, 2012, the 33-year-old terrorist was sentenced to the Norwegian maximum of 21 years in prison for killing 77 people in a bomb attack in Oslo and a gun rampage on the island of Utoya on July 22, 2011. Eight people were killed in the bomb attack that targeted government buildings while 69 young activists were gunned down at the governing Labor Party’s annual youth camp on Utoya Island.
The Oslo native, who is serving his sentence in the high-security Ila prison near the Norwegian capital Oslo, has written a lengthy 27-page letter -- published on November 9, 2012, obtained by the Norwegian tabloid newspaper Verdens Gang (VG), and confirmed by his lawyer Tord Jordet -- to penal officials complaining about the ‘inhumane’ conditions of the facility.
The imprisoned convict seems to be extremely unhappy behind bars, even though his luxurious suite, with its three 86-square-foot cells for sleep, study, and exercise, which is estimated to cost 7 to 10 million kroner (1.2 to 1.7 million U.S. dollars) a year to incarcerate him, is in line with the typically humane treatment of convicts in Norway.
“I highly doubt that there are worse detention facilities in Norway,” Breivik, however, wrote in his controversial letter of complaint.
Nevertheless, Breivik enjoys the luxury of his fancy prison suite, reading, writing, and exercising at will, satisfying not only his most basic needs but also attending to his personal hygiene and demanding the fulfillment of his other ‘needs’ of social interaction, pursuing his literary ambitions, and freedom of speech to propagate his anti-Islam ideology of hatred.
“His (Breivik’s) freedom of speech is being violated,” his lawyer was quoted as saying. Jordet stated that the communication that Breivik receives from the outside world is subjected to “unfair” censorship, with all sent and received letters being immediately censored once politics is mentioned.
One wonders how such a fanatic killer could speak of “freedom” when he had justified his massacre of the young activists -- whose innocent blood he had shed based on their political activity -- by saying they were not innocent kids.
“They were not innocent, non-political children; these were young people who worked to actively uphold multicultural values. Many people had leading positions in the leading Labor party youth wing,” Breivik had said about the youth he murdered in Utoya on the second day of his trial, comparing the Labor party’s youth wing, the AUF, with the Hitler Youth.
In his letter, Breivik also asked for a new pen, describing the stab-resistant safety pen given to him as “a nightmare of a tool” and “an almost indescribable manifestation of sadism,” which he says causes his hand to cramp and hinders him from pursuing his literary ambitions behind bars.
Breivik wants a user-friendly pen?! To give him a pen or not, that is the question in Breivik’s case, even though he had never hesitated in shooting the youth who pleaded with him to spare their lives. His own behavior best fits the phrase “indescribable manifestation of sadism.”
Breivik asks for ordinary everyday sources of pleasure, such as a view that would be pleasing to his eyes, hot coffee to warm himself in his “cold” lodgings, more butter to spread on his bread, and moisturizing skin cream to soften his skin, the skin of a hardhearted murderer whose heart is in much greater need of softening.
The berserker may be deprived of life’s little pleasures behind bars, but his innocent victims, through his evil acts, are forever deprived of the very precious gift of life itself.
The confessed killer also requested that more comfortable handcuffs be used to restrain him, saying that the razor-sharp edges of the painful steel handcuffs, which he is forced to wear whenever he is permitted to step outside his suite of cells, cut into his wrists.
How trivial a matter Breivik’s hurt wrists are against the backdrop of the 242 that he wounded and the painful deaths his helpless victims suffered at his hands, many of them shot three or more times, many receiving shots in the head at close range, the bullets tearing their skin open, splashing blood everywhere, and creating a terrifying nightmare in an hour-long killing spree that would everlastingly stain history with its memory.
Yet, never once since that dreadful July day in 2011, when Breivik’s horrific massacre shocked peaceful Norway and consequently the whole world, did he express any regret for the attacks. He even sought to justify his deeds in the name of “revolutionary nationalism” -- insisting that he had acted out of “goodness, not evil” to prevent a “major civil war” and even going so far as to say that he “would have done it again.”
The world has heard so much about Breivik, his motives, his thoughts, and his concerns, while his innocent victims seem to have been forgotten in history, forever lost, their families left to endure the pain of their sudden senseless loss for the rest of their lives.
“I will never get my daughter Andrine back,” Unni Espeland, the mother of a 16-year-old Utoya massacre victim, said after Breivik’s verdict was issued, and insisted that she thought the man who murdered her daughter had to take responsibility.
“I think he should get 21 years for each (person) he murdered,” she asserted.
But the 21 years Breivik faces for massacring 77 people, which the pitiless murderer -- who had said he preferred to be executed -- called a “pathetic” and “ridiculous” sentence, means he will be serving less than 100 days in prison for each person he killed!
“Twenty-one years in prison is pathetic -- ridiculous,” Breivik said as he was issued the sentence, mocking the verdict, albeit saying that he would have respected the death penalty. Reintroducing capital punishment would be the “right thing” for him and his country he had told the court in Oslo.
However, Norway’s judicial system was adamant that the country should stick to its decision to abolish the death penalty. One of the five judges on Breivik’s case was, therefore, dismissed from the panel when it emerged that he had said the “death penalty is the only just thing to do in this case” in a Facebook message he had posted in 2011.
The logic behind Europe’s opposition to the death penalty is understandable. Namely, that life is God’s gift to man and no human being, no country’s judiciary or penal system, should be permitted to take the life of another human being; that a state’s acts should not be based on revenge and retaliation but on rehabilitation; and that many were initially found guilty of murder and only later, after their execution, proven to be innocent.
But is there still a glimmer of hope for rehabilitation left for Breivik, a probably sane confessed murderer who feels not the least bit of remorse in his dark heart, who “apologizes to all militant nationalists that he wasn’t able to execute more”?
Perhaps those who lost loved ones in his barbaric killing spree can gain some sense of closure in the belief that Breivik’s prison term ‘could’ be indefinitely extended if he was still deemed to be a “danger to society”; that he may be doomed to be locked in prison for the rest of his life as is generally thought. On the other hand, however, he could be released in little more than two decades time, still relatively young with a whole life before him. Even if we were to assume that all the hatred and cruelty in his heart were to vanish, that he would live a decent life from then on and would no longer be deemed to be a threat to society, how could any sane person think that justice was served with such a minor punishment for such horrendous crimes?
“Those who show no mercy will be shown no mercy,” the saying goes. Why is there such a strong desire in the human soul for justice and fairness if the creator had not intended that it be realized? Is it not so that all desires engraved deep within the human psyche were destined to be fulfilled in the world without? How can such mercy and compassion toward so merciless a criminal be explained in the context of what he has done?
“He is welcome to cry his crocodile tears, but Anders Behring Breivik will never be anything but the coldblooded child-murderer and assassin who took nearly 80 human lives,” Verdens Gang quoted 24-year-old Utoya survivor Eivind Rindal as saying in reference to Breivik’s recent letter of complaint.
Despite Breivik’s lenient punishment, according to the noble Quran, in the eyes of God his crime is the same as if he had killed everyone in the world.
“For this reason did We prescribe to the children of Israel that whoever slays a soul, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all mankind; and whoever saves a life, it is as though he saved the life of all mankind.” -- The Holy Quran, verse 32 of Surah Al Ma’idah (The Table Spread with Food)
And then there are the repercussions that the light punishment given to the Norwegian terrorist could have on society as a whole and the influence it could have on other potential Breiviks waiting for the right moment to commit their crimes against humanity and individual innocent human beings, whose lives will be cut short because criminals have been emboldened. This brings to mind the ‘saving of life’ cited in the glorious Quran that lawful retaliation guarantees.
“O you who believe! retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the slain… but if any remission is made to any one by his [aggrieved] brother, then prosecution [for the bloodwit] should be made according to usage, and payment should be made to him in a good manner; this is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy; so whoever exceeds the limit after this, he shall have a painful chastisement. And there is [saving of] life for you in [the law of] retaliation, O men of understanding, that you may guard yourselves.” -- The Holy Quran, verses 178 and 179 of Surah Al Baqarah (The Cow)
Weeds must be removed from the soil for flowers to bloom. Nonetheless, the ‘civilized’ 21st century man frowns upon capital punishment, regardless of the loss of innocent lives he thus risks, causing one to contemplate how inadequate a replacement Western ‘modern’ man-made law is for God’s divine teachings.
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