On 22 July 2011, he killed eight people by detonating a van bomb amid Regjeringskvartalet in Oslo, then shot dead 69 participants of a Workers' Youth League (AUF) summer camp on the island of Utøya. In July 2012, he was convicted of mass murder, causing a fatal explosion, and terrorism.

On 24 August 2012, Breivik was adjudged sane and sentenced to containment—a special form of a prison sentence that can be extended indefinitely; with an approximate period of 21 years and a minimum time of 10 years, the maximum penalty in Norway. Breivik did not appeal and on 8 September media announced that the verdict was final.
Anders Behring Breivik, Wikipedia

I don't get it: he killed 77 people, but these murders were combined into a single crime "mass murder". It's like he gets a discount. Sure, it's the maximum penalty, but shouldn't he have received 77 penalties?

Question: After killing 77 people, why was Anders Behring Breivik not convicted of 77 murders?

  • 2
    The maximum penalty for murder in Norway seems to be 21 years regardless of the number of murders committed (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_(Norwegian_law) Planned murder is punished with up to 21 years of imprisonment, regardless of the number of murder victims. - cant find a non-wiki English source, so take it as you want...).
    – user4210
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 0:11

1 Answer 1


The maximum determinate sentence for anything (outside of military law) was 21 years (in 2013 increased to 30 years for serious terrorism offenses). The law on penalties §43 says that

In a sentence of detention, a time frame is set which should not normally exceed 15 years and cannot exceed 21 years.

Breivik was tried once for the crime of intentional murder, and convicted -- 21 years is the sentence. I believe that Norwegian law does not have the "multiple counts" system that the US has whereby an act can be punished under multiple sections of the law or for each victim. He performed an act of killing with very many victims, so no penalty longer than 21 years is allowed.

  • 5
    "that we have" −1 for cultivating the pretension that this site is US-centric, especially that no explicit reference to the US is made anywhere either in the question of the answer.
    – Greendrake
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 5:27
  • 2
    @Greendrake And when the person asking the question is listed as living in China, with no indication that they have ever lived in the US.
    – owjburnham
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 13:09

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