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Executive Summary

Anders Breivik, the suspect detained in the July bombing in the government district of Oslo, Norway, and subsequent mass killing on Utøya Island, near Oslo, may face charges under the country’s Penal Code for terrorist crimes, carrying at present a maximum penalty of twenty-one years in prison, or for crimes of humanity, for which the ultimate penalty is thirty years. However, if certain conditions are met, those penalties may be extended five years at a time by means of a system of preventive detention. It is also possible that Breivik, if found to be mentally unfit, could be placed under compulsory mental health care for an indeterminate time. Whatever the nature of the charges against the suspect, however, it is likely that his actions and the determination of his punishment will engender debate in Norway about the adequacy of the criminal justice system to deal with large-scale threats to public safety from extremist elements in society. This report, which is based chiefly on English-language materials, examines some of the current legal provisions in Norwegian law that may apply in the Breivik case and concludes with a look at some of the possible social outcomes that have been posited.

Full Report (PDF, 97KB)

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Last Updated: 12/15/2014