Confesses to Killing in Manslaughter Case

police station reykjavík

A girl who was released from custody last night in connection with the death of a 27-year-old man filmed the incident on her phone, RÚV reports. She asserts that the conflict was mostly between two individuals and that she did not inflict violence on the victim. One of the four suspects in the case has confessed to killing the victim, who was a Polish national.

Around midnight on April 20, law enforcement was tipped off to a confrontation between four people and the victim in the parking lot of Fjarðarkaup grocery store in Hafnarfjörður, a town in the Reykjavík capital area. Police arrived shortly after to find the victim, who was transported to the emergency room with several stab wounds and pronounced dead shortly after. The four suspects are Icelandic youth, three male and one female. The oldest suspect is 18 and the other three are under 18 years of age.

Read More: Manslaughter Case Raises Concerns Among Immigrant Community

The 17-year-old girl was remanded in custody until Thursday, April 27 but Landsréttur Court of Appeal repealed the ruling yesterday. The ruling states that the girl reported that shortly after she and her two companions exited a restaurant in Hafnarfjörður, one of them (who remains in custody) and the victim got into a fight. She stated that the conflict was mainly between the two of them and that she stayed 5-8 metres away during the fight and recorded it on her phone, as her parents had advised her to do if she found herself in an unsafe situation.

The phone recordings are said to support the girl’s statement and are being considered key evidence in the case. Police have completed all interrogations of all suspects in the case and believe they have a clear picture of the sequence of events that led to the man’s death.

Armed Plain-Clothes Police and Snipers in Reykjavík for Council of Europe Summit

The Council of Europe summit that will be held in Reykjavík, Iceland next month will not only bring European officials to the streets of the capital, but also hundreds of armed police as well as snipers. RÚV reports that around 300 police officers have received special training in the use of firearms in preparation for the event. Some 250 suits have been purchased so that officers can be on duty in plain-clothes during the event.

Armed police officers are a very rare sight in Iceland, as ordinary police officers do not carry firearms on their person. Police vehicles are equipped with a firearm, and special forces do carry firearms on their person, but they are only called out for violent incidents. Such extensive security and law enforcement as is being prepared for the summit has never been seen in Iceland.

All streets around Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, where the summit will take place, will be closed to vehicular traffic May 16 and 17 during the event, though they will be open to pedestrians and cyclists. Drivers can expect delays across a broader area as heads of state will receive police escorts when they are travelling by car. In total, 44 heads of state have confirmed their attendance at the event.

Iceland has around 850 active police officers and most of them will be involved in the summit in one way or another. According to the Ministry of Justice, the cost of law enforcement for the event will be around ISK 1.4 billion [$10.3 million, €9.3 million].

Justice Minister Promises Additional Tightening of Asylum Seeker Regulations

Jón Gunnarsson Minister of Justice

Iceland’s Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson has proposed changes to regulations governing asylum seekers in Iceland that will be made public in the coming days, RÚV reports. The proposed changes include implementing systemic measures to encourage asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected to leave the country. Jón stated he believes the government needs to “go further” and says the Justice Ministry has been working on a bill that “tackles certain uniquely Icelandic rules.”

Changes for asylum seekers from Venezuela

Like other countries in Europe, Iceland is seeing a surge in the number of asylum seekers. Over 1,700 people have applied for asylum in Iceland since the beginning of this year, with the largest group, nearly half, from Venezuela.  The Directorate of Immigration recently updated its assessment of conditions in Venezuela so that asylum seekers arriving from the country no longer automatically receive additional protection in Iceland. The Immigration and Asylum Appeals Board has yet to take a stance regarding this change.

Read More: Refugee Man and Family Previously Deported Win Case

Iceland’s Parliament passed a highly-criticised immigration bill last month that strips asylum seekers in the country of their rights, including access to housing and healthcare, 30 days after their applications have been rejected. Human rights organisations in Iceland have strongly opposed the bill, including the Red Cross, UNICEF, and Amnesty International.

Man Dies in Ship Fire

fatal accident Iceland

A 49-year-old man died in a fire on a ship in Njarðvík harbour, in Southwest Iceland, last night. Vísir reports that he was a Polish national and is survived by a wife and teenage son living in Poland. Seven people were on board the ship last night when the fire broke out, as it was scheduled to head out to sea this morning.

Firefighters were called out to the scene at 2:10 AM this morning. Four people on the boat escaped of their own accord and were unharmed. Two were taken to Suðurnes Health Centre, where one is in an induced coma. Another person sustained burns on their back in the fire.

The man who died on board was the ship’s cook, and had worked on the ship, called the Grímsnes GK-555, for around a decade. “He has lived in Iceland for nearly two decades, probably. He moved home to Poland with his family when his wife became ill, but has still worked here despite that, except for one year during Covid. He’s probably been with me for ten years,” stated Sigvaldi Hólmgrímsson, the ship’s captain.

Sigvaldi says he doesn’t know how the fire broke out and has yet to speak with police or firefighters. “I’ve heard different stories from all of my men. When something like this happens, you’re not thinking of anything other than getting yourself out. There was so much fire onboard that to my understanding they could barely see.”

This is the second time the Grímsnes GK-555 makes headlines this month. A crew member on the ship smuggled a 15-year-old girl on board in early April. The crew member was later fired.