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News Analysis: Breivik trial ends, but issues remain

08-25-2012 07:28 BJT

OSLO, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- With the verdict handed down on Friday at the Oslo District Court, all the dust around the case occurred on July 22, 2011 in which 77 people lost their lives is hoped to settle down eventually so that this nation of five million could put the tragedy behind and move on.

The perpetrator, Anders Behring Breivik, a 33-year-old Norwegian, was sentenced to 21 years in prison for the bombing attack at the government quarter in Oslo and the subsequent shooting on Utoeya island some 40 kilometers west of the Norwegian capital on July 22, 2011.

That is the maximum punishment the mass killer could have under Norwegian law but many believe that he will spend the rest of his life behind the bars in the Ila prison on the suburb of Oslo.

FAR-REACHING CONSEQUENCE

Though the case is de facto closed now as both prosecutors and the defendant chose not to appeal the ruling, a result with which the Norwegian society, on the whole, was quite satisfied, that was far from the ending chapter of the story.

The three-room cell, especially built for Breivik in the Ila prison with facilities for mental treatment, will not be used by him as the ruling states that he was not insane when committed his crimes. A separate cell will now have to be put in place in the prison at an estimated cost of 25 million kroner.

Damaged government buildings need to be rebuilt and the cost was expected to stand at one billion euros preliminarily. The trial itself is expensive too, as 170 million Norwegian kroner (roughly 28 million U.S. dollars) has already been spent on it.

Rich and wealthy as the country is, there is little doubt that Norway can bear all these expense, but for the families of the victims, the survivors and the others who were directly affected, the trauma would never be healed.

Meanwhile, the political arena also underwent some turbulence. The recent report harshly critical of the police response to the sudden twin attacks put Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg under pressure to resign after it forced the national police chief Oystein Maeland to step down.

On the other hand, opposition leaders urged serious debate on the use of psychiatrists in litigation as the two separate reports on the mental state of Breivik ordered to be done by the court do not agree at all in their conclusion, undermining the confidence of the society in the legal system.

Police reorganization and improvement in the legal system are either recommended in relevant review reports or seriously discussed among the political and academic elite.

IMMIGRATION DILEMMA

Breivik, who was termed as a fanatic right-wing extremist in the verdict, sees himself as a "fighter" against multi-culturalism and his hatred of immigrants is deeply rooted in the fear that Norway, as well as the entire Europe, would be taken over by immigrants in the coming decades.

The immigrants now account for more than one third of Oslo's 550,000 residents and their number is now projected to reach half of the city's population in less than two decades.

Many Norwegians realized that the trend of immigration cannot be reversed and Norway need foreign laborers to work in order to keep its economy growing.

"It is an outcome of globalization and we need to face the consequences in a proper way," said Rahim Nicolay Ali, a post-graduate student in political science in the University of Bergen.

As a half Norwegian and half Bengali, Ali said that the best way to resolve cultural conflict is bring people from different cultures together for dialogue and through this way promote understanding among them.

June Adolfsen, a law student at the University of Oslo, admitted that there are Norwegians who are anxious to a certain degree about having too many immigrants in this country.

But as long as the foreigners behave themselves and do not engage in criminal activities, they can live and work in Norway along with ethnic Norwegians, she said.

Erwin Angel, a theatre actor in his 50s, said that the immigration issue is not a Norwegian issue alone and that it should be viewed from a European perspective.

The problem could become acute in 20 years in Europe as people from poor countries naturally come to richer countries for a better living, said Angel.

"We need to give them jobs," said Angel, as jobs can help immigrants settle down more easily and dialogue is also undoubtedly helpful in removing misunderstanding. But everyone agrees that there is no easy way out, and the process of cultural integration is often a tourtuous route.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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