[As might have been expected, US commentators are drawing parallels between the sentence facing Anders Breivik if convicted of the Utoya killings and the sentence served by Abdelbaset Megrahi. Here is Michael Rubin in Commentary magazine:]
Alana Goodman pens an excellent post regarding how little jail time the confessed Norwegian terrorist and killer can expect for killing scores of civilians, both in his initial truck bomb blast and then in his shooting spree on Utoya island. According to some Norwegian analysts, he might expect a maximum of 21 years, or approximately 83 days per murder and, as Alana points out, will serve his time in relative luxury.
This certainly is outrageous, but unfortunately it’s the rule rather than the exception in many European states as postmodern theories of compassion and rehabilitation trump the importance of justice. Just take a look at that other mass murderer on the other side of the North Sea: On August 20, 2009, a Scottish court released Libyan agent and Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi after serving just 11.5 days per murder for downing Pan Am Flight 103 and killing 270 people. Scottish authorities defended Megrahi’s release on the grounds of compassion: He had, after all, only weeks to live. Never mind that today he appears to be doing quite fine in Tripoli.
It’s well past time for Europe to put justice first and reserve compassion for the victims of crime and terror, not the perpetrators.
[And here is Debra Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle:]
Now 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik stands accused of killing 76 individuals, many of them teenagers, in a vicious rampage that began with a bombing in Oslo on Friday. If convicted, he can expect to be a free man in his 50s. (...)
There is a lesson for Americans in this tale. Politicians in some states, including California, are pushing to end their state's death penalty. There are consequences.
Our Betters in Europe got rid of capital punishment decades ago. Next, Western European leaders went after life without parole. As Eurocrats focused on the redemption of offenders, they seemed to forget their obligation to protect the innocent and serve as a voice for silenced victims.
Hoover Institution legal fellow Abraham D Sofaer sees the 21-year cap as "absurdly inadequate" for this type of heinous crime. "I'm sure it's well intentioned. Maybe it works in most cases," he added. "But then you get these cases, where one would think almost anyone would agree that 21 years is an insult."
This wouldn't be a first time a modern terrorist won short time for a long list of victims on European soil. In 2001, three Scottish judges found former Libya intelligence operative Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi guilty in the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 bombing, which killed all 270 aboard. Scotland's life sentence made him eligible for parole in 27 years.
But after eight years, Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill granted Megrahi "compassionate" release on the grounds the Libyan had terminal cancer and was not expected to live more than three months. Almost two years later, Megrahi is alive and living large in Libya - having served mere weeks per victim.
When a country's justice system dispenses with the death penalty, then life sentences, it has no mechanism to redress evil.