European Human Rights Court Takes on Icelandic Gambling Case

Gambling addiction

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has decided to take on Guðlaugur Jakob Karlsson’s case against the Icelandic state, Morgunblaðið reports. Guðlaugur says the Icelandic state is breaking the law by allowing the operating of slot machines, which led him to become addicted to gambling, causing him financial and emotional harm.

The case is made on the grounds that the licences for slot machine operation issued by the government are contrary to Article 183 of the Penal Code, which prohibits gambling. Guðlaugur is demanding ISK 76,800,000 ($623,000/€565,000) from the state in damages, in addition to the cost of legal expenses. His lawyer Þórður Sveinsson says the case is on the ECHR’s agenda, though it is not yet known when it will be processed.

Guðlaugur initially charged the Icelandic state for damages in 2016. The Reykjavík District Court dismissed the case in October of 2017. The ruling was confirmed by the Court of Appeal in October 2018. Guðlaugur then applied to the Supreme Court of Iceland for right of appeal, but his application was rejected.

Þórður says the case raises various questions about the legislation concerning gambling in Iceland. “Slot machines are allowed, which are defined as the most extreme form of gambling. And then people are charged for inviting others to play roulette and poker for money,” he stated.

Iceland Review covered Iceland’s gambling regulations in a recent issue.

Little Moscow: Norðfjörður

Neskaupstaður

Welcome to Norðfjörður. This beautiful fjord is home to 1,469 people, but its history differs from many of the small towns that dot the fjords of Iceland. For 50-odd years, socialists controlled the town of Neskaupstaður in Norðfjörður. Or, as some would call it – Little Moscow. Today, signs of the townspeople’s leftist ways might seem like they have been methodically removed. But, if you look closely, they’re hidden in plain sight.

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New Research Projects Vatnajökull’s Surface Area in 2300

Europe’s largest glacier could be nearly gone by the year 2300, according to new doctoral research carried out in Iceland, RÚV reports. If Earth’s average temperature rises by four degrees Celsius, the glacier could be nearly gone within the next three centuries. The research is set to be published in the Journal of Glaciology shortly.

Vatnajökull glacier, located in Southeast Iceland, covers an area of 7,900km2 (4,900mi2), or about 8% of the country’s surface area. The glacier, alongside the country’s next-largest glaciers, Hofsjökull and Langjökull, has shrunk more over the past year than it has yearly over the past decade.

The study’s researchers modelled the glacier’s potential shrinkage based on different scenarios. They concluded that if Earth’s average temperature rises by two degrees, Vatnajökull’s surface area would decrease by 30-60% by the year 2300, the variance depending on other factors such as precipitation. If the temperature rises by four degrees Celsius, however, the glacier’s surface area is projected to decrease by 60% and up to nearly 100%.

“It really matters a lot for the country’s glaciers, whether we manage to keep emissions within the limits that the Paris Agreement has decided, to keep warming within two degrees, or if we continue to emit as we have been doing,” stated Guðfinna Aðalgeirsdóttir, Professor of Glaciology at the University of Iceland and one of the study’s authors. “If nothing is done that’s the way we are headed, and greenhouse gases will cause temperatures to rise about four degrees by the turn of the next century.”

Rising temperatures will act faster on Iceland’s other glaciers, according to Guðfinna. “Hofsjökull and Langjökull lie lower [in elevation] and they are smaller and they will probably decrease by 70-80% by the end of this century. So they will respond much faster than Vatnajökull.”

Minister Arrested in Connection With Samherji Case

Namibia’s former Minister of Fisheries Bernhard Esau has been arrested in connection with an investigation of corruption and alleged bribery, including from Icelandic fishing company Samherji. Esau resigned two weeks ago, as did Namibia’s Minister of Justice Sacky Shangala, after being implicated in a bribery scandal where they are alleged to have accepted millions in bribes from Samherji in exchange for horse mackerel fishing quotas.

According to The Namibian, Esau has the right to apply for bail. The country’s police are still looking for three high-profile individuals in connection with the case.

Businessman Ricardo Gustavo was also arrested in connection with the case. Both Gustavo and Esau are under investigation by Namibia’s Anti-Corruption Commission, which is also investigating Tamson “Fitty” Hatuikulipi (Esau’s son-in-law), and James Hatuikulipi, Tamson’s cousin and Chairman of the Board of the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) in connection with the case, as well as companies in their ownership. All of them are named in the so-called Fishrot Files, which suggest they engaged in bribery and tax evasion in the country’s fishing industry.

RÚV reports that the Anti-Corruption Commission has released a statement saying that all documents and witness accounts that have been reviewed in connection with the case point to bribery, money laundering, tax evasion, and corruption having taken place. Paulus Noa, the Commission’s director, has stated he hopes to talk to Samherji’s directors once the investigation is completed, and expressed his hope that Icelandic authorities would assist him in that aim. “We want to speak to the authorities and also the company owners,” he stated.