Anders Behring Breivik makes Nazi salute as lawsuit against Norway opens

Mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik made a Nazi salute on Tuesday as he arrived in court for his lawsuit against the Norwegian state, which he accuses of violating his human rights by holding him in isolation.

Skien Prison: Mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik on Tuesday made a Nazi salute at the opening of his lawsuit against Norway over his prison conditions, confirming fears he would use the opportunity to grandstand his extremist views.

Despite his theatrical entrance, Breivik`s lawyer Oystein Storrvik insisted the suit, which contends his five-year prison isolation constitutes "inhuman" treatment, was necessary because his client would likely be spending the rest of his life behind bars.

"This case is about something much more than what many people think, just a lawsuit brought to allow Breivik back into the spotlight to explain himself," Storrvik said.

"This case is simply about his detention conditions for the rest of his life," he said in the makeshift courtroom set up in the gymnasium of Skien prison where the killer is being held, where a climbing wall, two basketball hoops and exercise bars were visible.

Breivik is serving a maximum 21-year sentence for killing eight people in a bomb attack outside a government building in Oslo in July 2011, then murdering another 69 people, most of them teenagers, in a rampage at a Labour Youth camp on the island of Utoya.

His prison sentence can be extended if he is still considered a danger to society.

Sporting a shaved head and wearing a dark suit and white shirt, Breivik entered the courtroom, and, once his handcuffs were removed, he turned toward the media and extended his right arm in a Hitler-style salute.

The gesture was seen as a signal of his presumed conversion to National Socialism.

On several occasions during his 2012 trial, he made a similar salute, holding his closed right fist to his heart and then extending his arm.

"Never would I have wanted a client to do that by my side. It goes without saying," his lawyer told AFP during a break.

Just before wrapping up Tuesday`s proceedings, judge Helen Andenaes Sekulic asked him to refrain from further salutes.

"Breivik, I would appreciate it if, in the coming days, you would refrain from the salute you made at the beginning," she said.

After objecting that it was a Norse salute used by his ancestors a thousand years ago, he said he would "try to take that into account," his only statement of the day.

In a letter to AFP dated October 27, 2014, Breivik described himself as a "militant nationalist" and said he had pledged his "allegiance to National Socialism".

The case is seen as a test of Norway`s legal system, as the country tries to forget the name of the perpetrator of the deadliest bloodbath on its soil since World War II.

"What Breivik did was inhumane, which is exactly why it`s important to treat him humanely," Utoya survivor Bjorn Ihrer tweeted on Tuesday.Now, the 37-year-old is suing the state for breaching two clauses of the European Convention on Human Rights, one which prohibits "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment", and one which guarantees the right of respect for "private and family life" and "correspondence".

His lawyer argued that the frequent use of handcuffs and hundreds of strip-searches constituted degrading treatment.

And his detention in isolation was inhuman, he said. 

Since his arrest on July 22, 2011, Breivik has been held apart from the rest of the prison population and his contact with the outside world strictly controlled.

Prison officials censor his mail to prevent him from establishing an "extremist network", and his rare visits are almost exclusively with professionals behind a glass partition.

The only exception in five years was a five-minute meeting in 2013 with his mother during which they hugged, shortly before she died from cancer, Storrvik told the court.

Breivik is suffering "clear damage" from his prison conditions, Storrvik said, citing memory loss and an inability to focus on his studies.But Marius Emberland, the lawyer defending the state, rejected those arguments, listing a slew of activities offered to Breivik.

In prison, he has access to three cells -- one for living, one for studying and a third for physical exercise -- as well as a television, a computer without Internet access and a games console. He is able to prepare his own food and do his own laundry.

Breivik also has contact with prison staff and phone conversations with a "female friend," he added.

"It`s unpleasant and it`s supposed to be unpleasant to serve a long sentence," he said, stressing however that the conditions were "well within the limits of what is permitted" under the Convention.

The state also noted Breivik`s lack of remorse, and stressed the risks he and other inmates would face if he were to be allowed to mix with them.

"Breivik is an extremely dangerous man," Emberland said.

The killer followed the arguments closely, shaking his head several times to show his disagreement.

The proceedings, which will last until Friday, are being held at Skien Prison, 130 kilometres (80 miles) southwest of Oslo.

They are being broadcast on Norwegian television, though Breivik`s own testimony on Wednesday morning will not be aired out of respect for the victims.

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