ATLANTA -- Nearly 10 years after setting off the bomb that devastated the 1996 Summer Olympics, Eric Rudolph was sentenced to four life terms in prison yesterday at a hearing in which victims described him as a cowardly terrorist.
''Like other small men who act as you have acted, you have a Napoleonic complex and need to compensate for what you lack," said John Hawthorne, whose wife died in the Olympics bombing. ''Little person, big bomb. But you are still a small man."
Rudolph, 38, clean-shaven and gaunt, apologized for the bombing, saying he ''would do anything to take that night back."
The sentence closes a case that began with the Olympics bombing and included a five-year manhunt for Rudolph, who was captured in May 2003 in North Carolina scavenging for food from a trash container.
He pleaded guilty this year and was sentenced last month to life in prison for the 1998 bombing of a women's clinic in Alabama that killed a police officer and maimed a nurse. Yesterday's hearing covered the Olympics blast, a bombing at a gay nightclub in Atlanta, and another at an Atlanta abortion clinic in 1997. One woman was killed and more than 100 people were injured in the Olympics bombing.
Rudolph had faced a possible death sentence, but reached a plea deal with prosecutors in exchange for the disclosure of the location of more than 250 pounds of stolen dynamite he had buried in North Carolina.
In court yesterday, 14 victims and relatives told of the horror he caused and their wishes that he be punished. Many victims decided not to attend, saying they have moved on with their lives and didn't want to give Rudolph any more time.
John Hawthorne addressed Rudolph directly in court on what would have been his 18th wedding anniversary with Alice Hawthorne.
''Do you really expect the world of man to believe that innocent people had to die so you could make your voice heard?" Hawthorne said. ''Why, if your cause is just, are you not willing to die for it as so many others have done in the past for their cause? I know why. And I think you do, too."
Rudolph smirked and rolled his eyes during the testimony of some of the victims, especially those rebutting his antiabortion beliefs and his opposition to homosexuality. He laughed under his breath when one of the victims said it was appropriate that authorities found Rudolph scrounging for food.
As in past statements, Rudolph said he detonated the bomb at the Olympics because he wanted to force the cancellation of the Games and ''confound, anger, and embarrass" the federal government for sanctioning abortion. He said he had no intentions of hurting civilians.
Hawthorne said the thought of Rudolph being executed -- ''peacefully going to sleep on a gurney with a smile on his face" -- was unacceptable to him. He said he was pleased to know that Rudolph instead will ''never again see the beauty of flowers and trees" as he sits in prison.
''May God bless you with a long life," he said to Rudolph.