Breivik sentenced: Could the violence come to Britain?

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Self confessed mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik arrives in court this morning
Self confessed mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik arrives in court this morning

There were warnings of far-right violence in the UK today, after Anders Breivik was sentenced to a minimum of 21 years for killing 77 people in Norway.

Judges in an Oslo court unanimously ruled that the killer was sane, in a ruling which prompted him to smirk in the courtroom.

"We're happy he's been found guilty, but we would like the links and networks of far-right organisation to be seen, because we believe many of these tragedies can be prevented," Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism, told politics.co.uk.

"The EDL [English Defence League] already attempted it at the Red Bridge mosque. They've carried out attacks on people. They haven't used automatic weapons but they could easily kill people.


"That form of violence is married with political activity. Because they have encountered this systematic opposition they haven't flourished, but the emphasis of not recognising fascist groups doing this is wrong."

During his trial Breivik admitted posting on forums linked to by the EDL and exchanging messages with its members, but he insisted his 'Knights Templar' (KT) anti-immigration network was different to the UK far-right group.

"The EDL is an anti-violent organisation supporting democracy and [opposing] Sharia and Islamisation and they have nothing to do with KT at all. You cannot even compare them," he told the court.

But EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon was forced to deny praising Breivik after he said the "smart" murders could have been justified if they killed Muslims.

"Yes, it would have been easier to justify it [if he killed Muslims], but he would only have been swept aside as the one that killed Muslims because he did not like Islam," he said.

"Whether you like it or not, that guy was pretty smart...What he did is despicable, but he managed to make people curious."

British anti-fascist groups welcomed the conclusion that Breivik was sane, despite the fact that it was welcomed by the mass murderer.

"The problem is that he is sane," Bennett said.

"The idea he was insane is a simplistic response to a complex problem. The act itself is disgusting and a mad act, but so is the Holocaust.

"The logic and the politics behind it needs to be explained so it doesn't happen again."

Breivik is almost certain to end his life in jail, despite Norway's maximum prison sentence of 21 years, because a "preventive detention" option allows authorities to keep a prisoner as long as he is considered dangerous.

The sanity verdict will please many observers across Norway, including some of the victims' families, who believed the murderer needed to be considered responsible for what was ultimately considered a political crime.

Breivik set off a car bomb outside the government headquarters in Oslo before shooting dozens of young people at a Labour party summer camp on Utoya island.

The shooting spree killed 69 people, half of them younger than 18.

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