March 18, 2016 / 4:29 PM / 2 years ago

Breivik hearing ends with plea to ease mass killer's prison conditions

OSLO (Reuters) - Mass killer Anders Behring Breivik’s prison conditions should be eased because the “mental fragility” he displayed at a hearing show his human rights have been breached, his lawyer told a Norwegian court on Friday.

Mass killer Anders Behring Breivik is seen surrounded by prison guards on the fourth and last day in court in Skien prison, Norway March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Lise Asreud/NTB scanpix

The Nazi-inspired Breivik has taken Norwegian authorities to court, accusing them of inhuman and degrading treatment in prison in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights since he massacred 77 people in a bombing and shooting rampage in 2011.

The case has raised dismay, and some laughter, among Norwegians taken aback by Breivik’s complaints of cold coffee and microwaved meals he said were “worse than waterboarding”.

The microwaved meals, which Breivik referred to by the name of their Norwegian producer Fjordland, was one favorite on social and traditional media, in contrast with the grave atmosphere of Breivik’s trial four years ago.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald “Trump wants to introduce Fjordland dinners as torture for terrorists,” read the headline of an article on the satirical website Opplysningskontoret.org (The Information Bureau).

On the final day of the four-day hearing, Breivik’s lawyer argued that his client had displayed “mental fragility” in court, a sign he said that Breivik’s human rights had been violated.

“He is completely alone, hour after hour, and says he is a national socialist and other things that, to normal people, are completely absurd,” Oeystein Storrvik told the hearing, which was moved to the gym hall of Skien prison, where Breivik is held, for security reasons.

“Breivik’s mental fragility must be taken into consideration as a breach of the (human rights) convention. This is the heart of the matter,” he said in his closing argument.

Wearing a black suit, white shirt and blue tie, Breivik sat still much of the time, shaking his head in disagreement with lawyers defending the state on some occasions. He did not repeat the Nazi salute he made on the first day of the case.

“The plaintiff neither is, or has, been subject to inhumane treatment,” said state lawyer Adele Matheson Mestad, adding that Breivik’s stiff-arm salute made “a mockery of the court”.

A legal expert said it would be tough for Breivik to prove his complaint of inhuman and degrading treatment.

“For him to prove he is suffering is ... an uphill struggle,” Ulf Stridbeck, a professor of law at Oslo University, told Reuters. “It’s a little bit childish to talk about the cold coffee and food. I think it didn’t help him.”

The presiding judge said she expected to deliver her decision - there is no jury - around the end of April.

Additional reporting by Alister Doyle and Camilla Knudsen; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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