The case of Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Oslo and the island of UtØya in July 2011 is unusual, to say the least. Not only were the killings horrific in their calm and calculated brutality, but at the trial the prosecution argued that Breivik was insane and should be detained for psychiatric treatment, whereas the defence argued that he was criminally responsible and should be sent to prison.
This year has seen the killing of three wanted men, all active in politics in their own peculiar ways: Osama bin Laden of al-Qaeda, Anwar al-Awlaki, the Islamist internet preacher based in Yemen, and Muammar Gaddafi, the ousted ‘Brother Leader’ of Libya. The circumstances of these killings were different, but they have generated both an exuberant sense of justice done and, at the same time, serious concerns about the legality and ethics of such acts.
Crime is currently in the news even more than usual, following numerous high profile events that took place during the summer months. In July, we heard detailed revelations of the illegal activities of newspapers in order to obtain stories and in August, we had the civil disturbances in a number of major cities in Britain.
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