UK

Anders Breivik Should Not Be Denied Human Rights, Says Utøya Survivor Bjorn Ihler

Strong words from a survivor of the massacre.

21/04/2016 11:18 BST

A survivor of Anders Breivik's massacre on the island of Utøya has defended a legal decision that the mass murderer's human rights were being violated in prison.

Breivik was convicted of terrorism and mass murder and jailed for 21 years in 2012, after killing 77 people in attacks on two parts of Norway in 2011.

The Oslo district court ruled on Wednesday that his prison conditions breached the European Convention on Human Rights prohibiting inhuman and degrading treatment.

The verdict drew horrified reactions from many.

Norsk Telegrambyra AS / Reuters
Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in Norway in 2011

But speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, massacre survivor Bjørn Ihler said that although Breivik had denied his victims humanity, that did not justify them doing the same to him.

He said: “I think it’s an extremely balanced decision. I think it shows great strength from the court’s side that they were able to see that there might be faults in the ways in which the Norwegian imprisonment system has treated Brevik.

“I think that shows just how firmly the Norwegian court believes in equality before the law also when facing our worst terrorist.

“I think at the end of the day, he deserves the same human rights as any other inmate and I don’t think he poses a particularly much larger threat than any one of those who believe in many of the same things as him who today live outside of prison and speak their hateful messages freely.

“Of course, Breivik denied us all humanity and all human rights. But that does not ever make it right for us to deny him the same thing. If we do that, we follow the same logic as him I think.”

STR New / Reuters
The island of Utoya, where Breivik shot dozens of teenagers dead

Ihler survived after fleeing into the waters surrounding the island in an attempt to escape Breivik, who pretended to be a police officer before continuing to fire at his victims.

The killer narrowly missed Ihler, who was able to swim around a corner to safety.

Breivik’s attacks shocked on Norway on July 22, 2011. After months of meticulous preparations, he set off a car bomb outside the government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight people and wounding dozens.

He then drove to Utøya island, where he opened fire on the annual summer camp of the left-wing Labour Party’s youth wing. Brevik killed 69 people killed, most of them teenagers, before he surrendered to police.

In 2014 police rejected a lengthy complaint from Breivik, who claimed his treatment in jail – including the quality of his video games – amounted to “serious torture.”

In a four-page hand-written letter to penitentiary officials, Breivik described the prison where is being held as “hell” and made a list of 12 demands to improve the “torture-like” conditions he claimed he is being forced to live in.

Breivik’s requests included that the Playstation 2 he has access to is replaced by a more recent Playstation 3. He also requested a computer to replace his “worthless” typewriter.

He also requested a sofa to replace the “painful” chair in his cell and that his weekly allowance be doubled to £60.

“You’ve put me in hell ... and I won’t manage to survive that long. You are killing me,” he wrote.