Priest: Talking with mass murderer Breivik is 'challenging'

AP News
Posted: Jan 13, 2017 11:22 AM
Priest: Talking with mass murderer Breivik is 'challenging'

OSLO, Norway (AP) — The priest who acts as a prison confidante to Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik said his role is to "try to make things a little bit better for the most despised person" in Norway.

Father Tormod Klovning told a court Friday that he speaks to Breivik through a glass wall that makes him feel safe. Klovning is the only person from outside the prison system to meet regularly with Breivik. He is not obliged to report on the content of their discussions.

Klovning spoke at a hearing at the high-security prison in southern Norway where Breivik, a right-wing extremist, is serving a 21-year sentence for killing 77 people in a 2011 bomb-and-shooting rampage. The Norwegian government has appealed a lower court ruling that Breivik's isolation in prison violates his human rights.

Breivik "needs human contact," said the 48-year-old priest who was appointed to visit Breivik once a week, adding the task was "professionally challenging."

"It's strange to meet a person 90 times without shaking hands" because of the glass wall, he said.

Breivik, 37, told the court on Thursday that his solitary confinement in prison has deeply damaged him and made him even more radical in his neo-Nazi beliefs.

Six days have been reserved for the hearings by the Borgarting Court of Appeals in the makeshift courtroom in the gym of the prison in Skien, 135 kilometers (85 miles) southwest of the capital, Oslo. They are to end Wednesday, with a ruling expected in February.

Klovning — the last witness to appear — spoke in general terms because his conversations with Breivik are confidential, but he said they talk about a wide range of subjects.

"We (also) talk about the path that led to the insane day and Utoya," he said.

The island of Utoya is where Breivik gunned down 69 people from a youth camp after setting off a car bomb at Oslo's government district that killed another eight people. He later surrendered to police.