SKIEN, Norway — Norway’s worst mass killer pledged allegiance to Nazism, compared himself to Nelson Mandela and complained about being served cold coffee and microwaved food as he testified Wednesday in a trial over his prison conditions.
Anders Behring Breivik, 37, accused the government of trying to sap his will to live by isolating him from other prisoners and denying him mail correspondence with other right-wing extremists.
“This is inhuman treatment,” said Breivik who killed 77 people in 2011 in a bombing in Oslo’s government district and a shooting massacre on Utoya island, where the youth division of the left-wing Labor Party had gathered for its annual summer camp.
Testifying in a prison gym temporarily used as a courtroom, Breivik was given three hours to explain why he thinks his human rights have been violated in a prison system widely seen as among the world’s most lenient.
He said the government had abused him through 885 strip searches, frequent handcuffing and restrictions on pen pals and visitors. His long list of grievances included being served microwaved food and having to eat it with plastic utensils.
But he also used his first chance to speak to an outside audience since his 2012 criminal trial to declare himself a pure “national socialist,” or Nazi. After the attacks he had described himself as a commander of a Christian militant group, which investigators found no trace of.
Throughout his rambling speech, Breivik’s focus was on himself, his political views and the perceived injustices he faces in prison, not on the lives he took and the families he destroyed.
“This is a waste of time. He has nothing to complain about,” said Freddy Lie, whose teenage daughters were on Utoya when Breivik attacked. One of them died and another was seriously wounded.
Lie, the only family member of a victim attending the trial in Skien prison, said the judge should have stopped Breivik from making “irrelevant” political statements.
Norwegian authorities insist Breivik has the same rights as any other inmate to challenge his prison conditions. Judge Helen Andenaes Sekulic repeatedly urged Breivik to speed up his monologue to the court, but didn’t stop him from describing his ambitions to lead a fascist party from prison.
Though he refrained from doing a Nazi salute, like he did on the first day of the trial, Breivik explained how he became a Nazi at age 12 and how Adolf Hitler’s teachings helped him endure his isolation in prison.
“Those principles are the only reasons that I am alive today,” Breivik said.
But he also said that his loneliness was taking a toll on his mental state, resulting in headaches and difficulty sleeping.
Prison psychiatrist Randi Rosenqvist testified that she found no signs that Breivik had suffered serious mental health problems because of his isolation.
“Everyone has headaches from time to time,” she said, adding that could be remedied with painkillers and water.
Later, court officials inspected the three cells that Breivik has to himself in the high-security wing of Skien prison and where he can play video games, watch TV and read newspapers. The government says he has an electronic typewriter and a computer that isn’t connected to the Internet.
He is allowed to receive visits from family and friends, but hasn’t received any except for his mother before she died. Breivik declined to meet with his father. Government lawyers said they had rejected visits from right-wing extremists for security reasons.
Comparing himself to Mandela, the late Nobel Peace Prize laureate and South African president who was jailed during his struggle against apartheid, Breivik told the court he no longer sees violence as a way to achieve his political goals.
“We don’t necessarily believe that,” government attorney Marius Emberland said.
The trial is set to finish on Friday.