COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Convicted mass killer Anders Behring Breivik has been admitted to the University of Oslo’s political science program, although he will stay in his cell to study, the university’s rector said Friday.
The 36-year-old right-wing extremist is serving 21 years in prison for killing 77 people in politically motivated bomb-and-gun massacres in 2011. The sentence can be extended when it expires.
“All inmates in Norwegian prisons are entitled to higher education in Norway if they meet the admission requirements,” university rector Ole Petter Ottersen said Friday in an email to The Associated Press.
Breivik’s application was rejected two years ago after the university said his qualifications were insufficient. That submission stirred a debate in Norway over whether someone convicted of such a horrific crime should be considered for higher education.
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Norway has a rehabilitation-focused justice system aimed at helping inmates prepare for life after they get out, which includes giving them the right to pursue higher education. Before the 2011 attacks, Breivik attended high schools in Norway and took online course in small business management. But he had not completed secondary education, which he has been working on since his 2012 conviction.
“He then didn’t meet the admission requirements. Now his grades live up to what is expected,” university spokeswoman Marina Tofting said.
Breivik will begin the university program in August. Prison regulations will prevent him from going to the Oslo campus, attending classes, accessing digital learning resources or having any contact with students or university staff, Ottersen said.
“It is important to us that he remains in his cell,” Lisbeth Kristine Roeyneland of the victims’ support group told Norwegian news agency NTB. “To us, it is irrelevant whether he sits there and reads fiction or whether he is studying a book of political science.”
Hours before the attacks, Breivik emailed a 1,500-page, anti-Muslim manifesto, citing counter-jihadist groups who have condemned his actions and dismissed him as a lunatic. Breivik also claimed to be part of a secretive, non-existent network of “Knights Templar.”
He set off a car bomb explosion that ripped open buildings in the heart of Norway’s government quarter in Oslo, then went to a summer camp dressed as a police officer and gunned down youths as they ran and swam for their lives.
Breivik’s lawyer was not immediately available for comment on the development.