Accepting a sentence that could keep him imprisoned for life, Anders Behring Breivik regretted not killing more people in a bomb and gun massacre that left 77 people dead.
Breivik’s gruesome and defiant statement Friday marked the end of a legal process that has haunted Norway for 13 months.
Prosecutors said they, too, would not appeal the ruling by Oslo’s district court, which declared the right-wing extremist sane enough to be held criminally responsible for attacks “unparalleled in Norwegian history.”
“Since I don’t recognize the authority of the court I cannot legitimize the Oslo district court by accepting the verdict,” Breivik said. “At the same time I cannot appeal the verdict, because by appealing it I would legitimize the court.”
Then, Breivik said he wanted to issue an apology, but it wasn’t for the victims, most of them teenagers gunned down in one of the worst peacetime shooting massacres in modern history.
“I wish to apologize to all militant nationalists that I wasn’t able to execute more,” Breivik said.
Earlier Friday, Breivik smiled with apparent satisfaction when Judge Wenche Elisabeth Arntzen read the ruling, declaring him sane enough to be held criminally responsible and sentencing him to “preventive detention,” which means it is unlikely he will ever be released.
The sentence brings a form of closure to Norway, which was shaken to its core by the attacks on July 22, 2011, because Breivik’s lawyers said before the verdict that he would not appeal any ruling that did not declare him insane.
But it also means Breivik got what he wanted: a ruling that paints him as a political terrorist instead of a psychotic mass murderer. Since his arrest, Breivik has said the attacks were meant to draw attention to his extreme right-wing ideology and to inspire a multi-decade uprising by “militant nationalists” across Europe.
Prosecutors had argued Breivik was insane as he plotted his attacks to draw attention to a rambling “manifesto” that blamed Muslim immigration for the disintegration of European society.
After first telling the court they needed time to review the verdict, prosecutors later told reporters that Norway’s chief prosecutor had decided not to appeal.
Breivik argued that authorities were trying to cast him as sick to cast doubt on his political views, and said during the trial that being sent to an insane asylum would be the worst thing that could happen to him.
“He has always seen himself as sane so he isn’t surprised by the ruling,” Breivik’s defense lawyer Geir Lippestad said.
The five-judge panel in the Oslo district court unanimously convicted Breivik, 33, of terrorism and premeditated murder and ordered him imprisoned for a period between 10 and 21 years, the maximum allowed under Norwegian law. Such sentences can be extended as long as an inmate is considered too dangerous to be released, and legal experts say Breivik will almost certainly spend the rest of his life in prison.
“He has killed 77 people, most of them youth, who were shot without mercy, face to face. The cruelty is unparalleled in Norwegian history,” Judge Arne Lyng said. “This means that the defendant even after serving 21 years in prison would be a very dangerous man.”
Some far right leaders argued that Friday’s verdict played into their core beliefs, though they have spoken out against his violent rampage.
“It was obviously wrong what he did, but there was logic to all of it,” said Stephen Lennon, the 29-year-old leader of the English Defense League. “By saying that he was sane, it gives a certain credibility to what he had been saying. And that is, that Islam is a threat to Europe and to the world.”
Survivors of the attacks and relatives of victims welcomed the ruling.
“I am very relieved and happy about the outcome,” said Tore Sinding Bekkedal, who survived the Utoya shooting.
“I believe he is mad, but it is political madness and not psychiatric madness,” Bekkedal said. “He is a pathetic and sad little person.”
Per Anders Langerod, another shooting survivor, said he would like to visit Breivik in prison “and yell at him for 15 minutes.”
“I don’t want to hurt him because I have a problem with violence, now more than ever,” Langerod told the AP. “But I want to yell at him. I want to explain to him what kind of egomaniac mass murderer he is and how he has affected so many people so terribly.”