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Mass killer Breivik complains of isolation, microwaved meals

SKIEN, Norway (Reuters) - Mass killer Anders Behring Breivik told a court on Wednesday that Norway was trying to kill him with years of solitary confinement, complaining of degrading prison conditions, including microwaved meals that were “worse than waterboarding”.

Only his commitment to the Nazi creed had sustained him, said the man who murdered 77 people in a bombing and shooting rampage in 2011 and is now accusing the state of violating his human rights. The government denies the charges.

In a long statement at the hearing in his prison’s gym, he said he found regular strip searches “bothersome and offensive”, felt isolated without visitors and grumbled about cold coffee and plastic cutlery.

The first day of the hearing had heard he had his own treadmill, PlayStation, spin bicycle and reclinable chair with integrated foot stool, and took part in the prison’s Christmas gingerbread-house baking contest.

Lawyers for the government had said he also received newspapers, magazines, books, jigsaw puzzles, watched DVDs and listened to music on a Discman.

“The worst is isolation ... I am locked up 23 hours a day,” Breivik said, answering questions from his lawyer, Oeystein Storrvik on the second day of the proceedings.

“For five years the state has tried to kill me with this treatment ... It would have been better if they had shot me than treating me worse than an animal,” he added later.

He did not repeat a Nazi salute he made at the start of the four-day hearing, which had earned him a rebuke from judge Helen Andenaes Sekulic.

But he said he had been a follower of the Nazis’ creed of National Socialism since he was 12. “I read (Adolf Hitler’s book) Mein Kampf when I was 14 ... Those principles are the only reasons that I am alive today.”

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Breivik shot dead 69 mainly young political activists at a summer camp on Utoya island after setting off a car bomb outside the prime minister’s office in the center of Oslo, killing eight people on July 22, 2011.

The killings were the worst atrocity in Norway since World War Two, traumatizing a nation that prides itself on its reputation for peace and safety.

Many survivors now want nothing to do with the case, hoping to get on with their lives and forget Breivik behind bars.

“The whole thing is a joke,” Freddy Lie, one of whose daughters Breivik killed on Utoya while another survived, told Reuters after seeing Breivik testify.

“Many have it much worse than him. Not just in prison. Us, the relatives, those left behind, we have it ten times much worse than him. And we have to live with it.”

Some relatives of victims were among the roughly 100 people who watched the trial by a video link in a courtroom in Oslo. Many burst out laughing when Breivik protested about cold coffee and microwaved meals.

Breivik, 37, argues he is the victim of inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, by being kept alone in a special three-room cell, with daily contact only with prison staff and professionals.

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The state says the conditions are appropriate for a dangerous fanatic.

Wearing the same black suit, white shirt and golden tie he wore on the first day, Breivik testified for roughly three hours at southern Norway’s Skien prison, where he is held.

On Tuesday, lawyers for the state said he had turned down offers to play chess with prison volunteers and bandy, a type of indoor hockey, with prison guards.

Defending the state, Adele Matheson Mestad argued that Breivik had received and sent about 4,000 letters, and only 15 percent of them had been stopped by prison authorities.

She said Breivik was trying to correspond with known Nazis. “Among them could be a new Breivik,” she added.

Additional reporting by Stine Jacobsen and Alister Doyle; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Andrew Heavens