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Norway massacre: Court weighs mass killer Breivik's application for parole

A district court in Norway is hearing extremist Anders Behring Breivik's appeal for an early release. He was convicted of killing 77 people in 2011 — the country's deadliest terror attack since World War II.

 In this January 2017 file photo, Anders Behring Breivik looks on during the last day of his appeal case

Breivik was sentenced to 21 years in prison for carrying out Norway's worst peacetime atrocity

A Norwegian court on Tuesday was set to consider right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik's request for parole, a decade after he was convicted of murdering 77 people in Oslo and at a youth camp on the island of Utoya.

The Telemark district court in Skien will weigh whether Breivik continues to be a threat to society, as families of his victims — who are concerned he would use the hearing as a platform to share his political views —  urge that he be deprived of the attention he is trying to muster. 

What is happening in court?

The hearing, which will be broadcast live, is scheduled to last three days with an additional day in reserve.

A decision could come next week — but the court is widely expected to deny his request.

Last year, the Oslo state prosecutor's office had rejected Breivik's application for early release.

"Our position is that it is necessary with (continued) confinement to protect society," the prosecutor in charge, Hulda Karlsdottir said, news agency Reuters reported.

If his request for release is denied, Breivik can apply for a new probation hearing after a year, Karlsdottir said.

Watch video 02:21

10 years after the Utoya massacre

Norway's worst peacetime atrocity

Breivik, who has legally changed his name to Fjotolf Hansen, triggered a truck bomb near the government offices in Oslo on July 22, 2011, killing eight people.

He then gunned down 69 others, most of them teenagers, attending a camp organized by Norway's Labor Party on the island of Utoya.

In total, he killed 77 people, amounting to Norway's worst peacetime atrocity.

Breivik said he killed the people because they embraced multiculturalism, and cited other right-wing extremist and anti-Muslim beliefs as the motive behind the mass killings.

In 2012, he was sentenced to 21 years in prison — the maximum possible sentence in Norway.

Calls for 'as little focus as possible on Breivik'

A support group for the families has said that it wants to "encourage as little focus as possible on Breivik and his message."

"Any mention of this case in general, and the terrorist in particular, is a great burden for survivors, parents, and those affected by the terrorist attacks in Norway," the group said.

During his past court appearances and communications, Breivik has claimed to have distanced himself from violence.

"As in any other state governed by the rule of law, a convict has the right to request conditional release and Breivik has decided to exercise this right," his lawyer Oystein Storrvik told news agency AFP.

Tore Bjorgo, the head of the Center for Research on Extremism (C-REX) at the University of Oslo, said that "he has in no way distanced himself from the mass killing."

"He has not become less of an extremist from an ideological standpoint," the extremism researcher told AFP.

The Oslo court that originally sentenced him, however, ruled that he was likely to have the intention and capacity to commit further murders even after serving his sentence.

dvv/rs (AFP, dpa, Reuters) 

Watch video 02:11

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