He also won by getting considerable media coverage of his political ideology during the trial. Indeed, in the political manifesto he released online shortly before his killing spree, he referred to the trial as part of “the propaganda phase” of his publicity efforts. That phase is expected to continue from prison, where he plans to write a trilogy of political books in English and correspond with supporters.
He did lose on one main point: that he be found not guilty. Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen rejected his argument that his planned massacre was a “pre-emptive attack” to avoid a wider civil war that would ensue as a result of the Muslim colonization of Europe. Neither Norwegian law, nor the European Court of Human Rights, gives the right to assassinate government figures for extreme political purposes, she said as part of the historic 90-page verdict.
As for the prosecution, technically they did not win because they were pressing for him to be remanded to compulsory psychiatric care. The judges instead found that Breivik was sane and legally punishable. However, how horrible is it for prosecutors to lose and see a mass murderer go to prison?
Still the case is embarrassing for the prosecution because it never really questioned the first psychiatric report that found him psychotic. Tor-Aksel Busch, Norway’s chief of public prosecutions, even had to apologize after the verdict for not having ordered a second report. Had legal counsel for the victims not pressed for a new report, Breivik could have gotten away with the crime of the century.
As for the victims, it’s a pale victory. Yes, they get to see Breivik held accountable for the murders and put an end to their 13-month ordeal. But they will still be struggling to deal with the senselessness of his car bomb attack at the government headquarters and the brutality of the executions at Utøya, where he gunned down Labor party youths in cold blood for more than one hour.