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Simon Reid-Henry


23 August 2012

Beyond Madness

The judges presiding over the trial of Anders Behring Breivik in Oslo are due to give their verdict tomorrow. It is likely, though by no means certain, that Breivik will be judged to have been criminally insane when he murdered 77 people last year, and sentenced to compulsory psychiatric treatment. The only other possible outcome is that he be judged criminally responsible for his acts and condemned to life imprisonment. The difference between the two verdicts is in all practical senses minimal: in neither case is he likely ever to walk free again. But in symbolic terms the difference is huge. It represents, in effect, a judgment as to whether Breivik’s actions have political meaning or not.

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