Norwegian mass murderer argues prison conditions "inhumane"

Five years of strip searches, censored mail and isolation in prison amount to "inhumane" treatment, argued Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian right-wing extremist who killed 77 people during a 2011 rampage, as he appeared in court Tuesday.

Breivik, dressed in a suit and with a shaved head, made a defiant Nazi-style salute in the provisional court room as soon as his handcuffs were removed.

Due to security concerns, the hearing was conducted at the Skien high security prison, a two-hour drive south from Oslo, where Breivik is incarcerated.

Opening the four-day hearing, Breivik's attorney, Oystein Storrvik, said Breivik had been subjected to hundreds of strip searches, as well as censorship of correspondence and denial of visits.

"As a whole, this 'pressure in isolation' constitutes inhumane treatment," he said.

The terms violated the European Convention of Human Rights, the attorney argued.

Since his 2011 incarceration, Breivik's mother - who has since died - has been the only outsider allowed to meet Breivik without a glass window separating them. Indeed, she had been the only visitor who had come on personal grounds: All other visitors had come for professional reasons, Storrvik said.

Breivik is serving a 21-year prison sentence for the attacks, considered the worst acts of violence in Norway since World War II.

Breivik is scheduled to testify on Wednesday.

Unlike Tuesday's opening statements, the court has ruled that no media will be allowed to broadcast Breivik's testimony. The proceedings were also transmitted to the Oslo court house.

Although the hearing was in the prison's sports hall, Oslo District Court judge Helen Andenaes Sekulic said the proceedings would be conducted the same way as if the trial had been held in Oslo.

The 37-year-old has three cells and access to an exercise area, but is denied contact with other inmates.

Marius Emberland of the Office of the Attorney General, who represents the state, reminded the court that Breivik had "not shown any signs of remorse" and had shown he was capable of planning violent crimes.

"Breivik is in short, a very dangerous man," Emberland said, adding that the prions services had the right to ensure that society was protected.

Emberland rejected Breivik's claims that he was subjected to inhumane treatment.

Breivik was sentenced in August 2012 for the twin bombing and shooting attacks on July 22, 2011, which took place in Oslo and at a political youth camp organized by the Labour Party near the capital.

Breivik said his aim was to punish the Labour Party, then in office, for its failure to stem the flow of Muslim immigrants and spread of multiculturalism.

Last update: Tue, 15/03/2016 - 12:41

More from Europe

EP Foreign Affairs Committee warns of rising tensions in W. Balkans

Members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on Tuesday expressed concern over rising tensions and incendiary...

Gabriel set to become German foreign minister

Social Democrat chief Sigmar Gabriel is set to become Germany's foreign minister after deciding against standing as...

Gabriel proposes Schulz as the centre-left SPD's challenger to Merkel

German Social Democrat (SPD) chief Sigmar Gabriel said Tuesday he will not lead his centre-left party's challenge to...

Six killed in helicopter crash in earthquake-hit central Italy

A rescue helicopter crashed in central Italy on Tuesday, killing all six passengers on board as it returned from an...

German court tries Syrian asylum seeker accused of deli knife murder

A Syrian asylum seeker accused of killing his girlfriend with a deli knife and injuring passersby in southern town...