Right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik has been declared sane by a Norwegian court and sentenced to the maximum 21 years in prison after he admitted to killing 77 people in a bomb and gun attack last year.
Eight people died when Breivik set off explosives at the government's headquarters in Oslo in July 2011 in a carefully planned attack. He then shot dead 69 people, many of them teenagers, at the ruling Labour party's summer camp on the island of Ut°ya. More than 240 people were wounded during the rampage.
The court's five judges unanimously rejected the prosecution's call for 33-year-old Breivik to be ruled insane and confined to psychiatric care, instead imposing a prison term. Officials could decide later to extend the sentence indefinitely if he is still thought to be a danger to society.
Breivik's mental health was the main issue of his 10-week trial after he admitted carrying out the attacks, the worst in Norway since the Second World War. He had said he would appeal if the court decided he was insane, saying such a verdict would be "worse than death", but that he would not contest a verdict that found him sane.
Experts were divided, with one team declaring him a paranoid schizophrenic and another saying he was sane. Meanwhile Breivik refused to plead guilty and said his actions were justified to prevent the 'Islamisation' of Norway and what he saw as the promotion of multiculturalism by the Labour-led government.
Norwegian security and intelligence services have been criticised by an inquiry into the killings, which concluded that Breivik – who carried out the attack wearing a police uniform – could have been stopped more quickly. Defence analyst Anthony Tucker-Jones described
the multiple failings as a "intelligence catastrophe".
Robin Simcox, a terrorism expert at the Henry Jackson Society think-tank, said the sentence, the maximum available, nevertheless appeared "shockingly short". "For Breivik to be given just over three months per killing seems obscene. It must be hoped that he is never allowed out of prison."
However, he said it was "especially significant" that Breivik was declared sane. "He was fully aware of his actions, fully aware of the carnage and suffering he was inflicting on others – and chose to pursue his plans anyway. It was an act of unspeakable wickedness." Simcox said governments now had to be on the alert for copy-cat killers.