German Police “Must Take Responsibility” in Infamous Icelandic Case

Andrej Hunko

“The Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany [BKA] must shoulder its responsibility in the biggest legal scandal of Icelandic history,” according to German Member of Parliament Andrej Hunko. Vísir reports that Hunko, alongside other members of Germany’s Left Party, questioned the German government recently on Germany’s involvement in the Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case.

German Police Officer Karl Schütz was flown in to assist with the investigation of the case, which involved the disappearance of two men, Guðmundur and Geirfinnur, in 1974. Six people were ultimately convicted for the murders of these two men based on confessions extracted by members of the police force, with Schütz’ assistance. The case was reopened last year, with prison logs providing new evidence. The confessions have since been recognised as invalid, due to the use of extreme interrogation methods. Five of the convictions were overturned late last year.

German interrogation led to false confessions

“The German government has now confirmed the extensive assistance of the BKA through both its then-President and then-Secretary of the Interior Ministry Siegfried Fröhlich,” Hunko stated in reference to the German government’s response to the Left Party’s question this week. Hunko says it’s high time for the German government to offer Icelandic authorities all possible assistance in fully informing them about Germany’s participation in the case, though the response from the German government states that no request for such assistance has been received from Icelandic authorities.

“In the opinion of Gísli Guðjónsson, legal counsel, it was the interrogation methods of BKA which led to the false confessions which were made in the case,” Hunko stated, mentioning the extended solitary confinement, water torture, drugging, and hypnotism used on the suspects. “The German state needs to compensate the case victims for the methods that were used and yielded false confessions.”

Schütz a free agent

The government’s response to Hunko’s question stated that Pétur Eggertz, then-Icelandic ambassador to Germany, reportedly requested assistance in the Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case from Siegfried Fröhlich. While Fröhlich reportedly did not consider involving the BKA in the matter, he agreed to contact newly-retired officer Karl Schütz, who decided to take on the case. The government stated that as Schütz was retired, he provided aid in his own name and not on behalf of the BKA or German authorities.

Centre Party Delays Vote on Third Energy Package

Gunnar Bragi and Sigmundur Davíð

Centre Party MPs filibustered through the night to delay Parliament voting on the Third Energy Package, Vísir reports. A parliamentary session that began at 1.30pm yesterday was finally ended at 8.40am this morning, over 19 hours later, Centre Party MPs having exclusively held the podium from around 3.00pm. Parliament resumes session at 3.00pm today.

The main goal of the European Union’s Third Energy Package is to strengthen the internal energy market for gas and electricity in the EU in order to decrease the cost of energy. This is the second time Centre Party MPs monopolise the podium to delay votes on the Third Energy Package, which enjoys majority support in Parliament. On May 15, parliament convened from 3.48pm to 6.18am the next morning, with Centre Party MPs prominent in the debate.

Read More: Third Energy Package

Only five sessions are left in the spring term, which is scheduled to end on June 5. Meanwhile, seventy-one bills await their first reading in the chamber, and ten await their second. Another 105 bills are in the committee stage. In addition to these bills, 113 parliamentary resolutions await parliamentary vote, and ministers have 142 pending questions from MPs to address.

A controversial package

The European Union’s First Energy Package and Second Energy Package have already been agreed upon and adopted by members of the EU and EEA, including Iceland. The Third Energy Package was passed within the EU in 2009.  A decade later, Iceland is the only country that has not agreed to the package. Adopting it has proved controversial among Icelanders, some of whom believe it constituted handing over control of Iceland’s energy to European authorities. However, Iceland is not connected to Europe’s energy network and specialists in European law agree that it would not jeopardise the country’s sovereignty over publicly owned energy resources.  Refusing to sign the agreement would be unprecedented and likely jeopardise Iceland’s membership in the European Economic Area.

Some 300 individuals under 40 were featured in an ad in Fréttablaðið this week in support of the Third Energy Package. Its slogan reads: “Don’t play with our future. We support Iceland’s continued membership in the EEA Agreement. We want a free, open, and international society and stand together against isolationism.” The ad supporters span across the political spectrum.