OSLO (AFP) – The Norwegian prison where Anders Behring Breivik is being held said Thursday it agreed in principle to allow the convicted mass murderer to study political science, if the university wants him.
"It's possible to set this up if he is accepted by the university," Ila prison director Knut Barkeid told AFP when asked about reports that Breivik was planning to begin political science studies.
Breivik, who is serving a 21-year prison term for killing 77 people, is jailed under high-security conditions and is de facto kept in isolation. He may be kept in jail beyond the 21 years.
The announcement this week that he wanted to enrol at the University of Oslo to study political science has caused a stir, especially among teachers.
"It would be distance learning, from his cell, and examinations would take place in prison," said Bjarkeid.
Breivik would be banned from entering campus, and rather than communicating with his teachers by Internet, all exchange would be via ordinary mail, he said.
Breivik dropped out of senior high school, but he has tried to make up for his academic shortcomings by studying behind bars, and it would be up to the university to decide if he was qualified to enrol, he added. A decision is expected next week.
Education Minister Kristin Halvorsen has been criticised after she suggested that Breivik should not be permitted to study in prison.
"We are talking about a mass murderer who will never be released back into Norwegian society," she told TV2 Nyhetskanalen.
"The arguments that are normally used to encourage inmates to study at Norwegian prisons do not apply to the same extent" in this case, she said.
Lawyers and prison authorities have replied that it will be up to a court to decide if Breivik's jail term should be extended beyond the 21-year term.
Geir Lippestad, who was Breivik's lawyer during his trial, said that keeping him inactive in prison indefinitely would amount to "near torture".
The extremist, who is now 34 years old, killed 77 people on July 22, 2011 by first detonating a bomb in the Oslo government district and then opening fire on Labour Youth gathered for a summer camp on the island of Utoeya.