Mass killer Anders Breivik: 'I would rather be shot than held in prison like an animal'

Mass killer Anders Behring Breivik has told a court he would rather have been shot than "held like an animal" in prison.

The 37-year-old was jailed for 21 years - the maximum under Norwegian law - for massacring 77 people in bomb and gun attacks on July 22, 2011.

He has taken the Norwegian government to court to complain about "inhuman" conditions about the Skien jail where he is being held.

The right-wing extremist, who says his Nazi ideology has helped him survive prison, also claimed the Norwegian government is trying to kill him by holding him in isolation.

Breivik gives a Nazi salute in court on Tuesday. Credit: Reuters

Breivik says the state are trying to drive him to suicide by keeping him away from other prisoners and stopping his mail with sympathisers.

He said the isolation is making him apathetic and depressed, giving him headaches and difficulty sleeping.

And he told the court he drew strength from principles he had learned from Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf.

"Those principles are the only reasons that I am alive today," he said.

Flowers left near Utoya Island where the killings happened. Credit: Reuters

The government has rejected his claims, saying he is being treated humanely and with dignity despite the severity of his crimes.

He has three cells at his disposal - one for sleeping, one for studying and one for working out - as well as daily access to an exercise yard.

And he has even been allowed to make a gingerbread house as part of a prison competition, the court heard.

Lisbeth Royneland, whose 18-year-old daughter Synne was killed in Breivik's shooting massacre on Utoya island, said: "It's pathetic. It's a farce."

The trial is set to end on Friday.