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The Word on the Week

Norwegian Justice

There was never any doubt about Anders Breivik’s guilt in the murder of 69 people and the wounding of 242 others following his bomb attack in Oslo and his rampage on the island of Utoya. The only doubts centred on his sanity and what verdict the court would impose this week.

Unlike American courts where many States have retained the death penalty as the ultimate sentence of retribution European courts have no such sanction. Instead they have gone for the rehabilitation of the guilty on the basis that none are beyond redemption.

Anders presented the court with two problems. First was his wish to be declared sane in order that his hyper-nationalistic views could not be written off as the ravings of a madman. The second was his tirade after the verdict was announced bemoaning that he had let down his Nationalistic friends by not having killed more people. The judge cut off his microphone terminating the rant to which Anders responded with a defiant clenched right fist in a fascist salute.

His sentence of 21 years imprisonment will be carried out in a high security prison where he will have his own 3 roomed suite. He will not be allowed access to other prisoners. He will be given the use of a computer but no internet access. The only people he will have contact with are his prison wardens who are presumably immune to his anti-Muslim anti-multiculturalism views.

Part of the country’s response to the attacks was the desire that Anders hateful beliefs should not be allowed to fill Norway with hate. In April, while the trial was taking place, tens of thousands of people around the country gathered for a mass sing-along of “Children of the Rainbow,” (a song Anders denounced in court) to show that he had not shattered their commitment to love, tolerance and inclusiveness.

The song itself is one of hopeful nation-building embracing thoughts of creation, the fall, sins of all, God’s law and a vague reference to Christ.

When it comes to justice for us our hope needs to be in Christ. He alone can judge justly because he knows each one of us intimately. His judgements will be perfect. (2Corinthians chapter 5 verse 10). Better for us to look for mercy replacing the clenched fist with the bended knee echoing the prayer of the Tax-collector “Lord be merciful to me, a sinner”.

That person is justified in God’s sight (St Luke Chapter 18 verses 13/14).