Five defendants in the high-profile Bankastræti Club attack in Reykjavík have submitted varying accounts to the District Court, ranging from claims of intending only to intimidate the victims to complete ignorance of the planned violence, RÚV reports. Due to the unprecedented number of defendants, the court proceedings will be held in a larger venue, the Gullhamrar banquet hall, from September 25 to October 3.
Denies all allegations
In a case drawing considerable public attention, five defendants involved in last November’s knife attack at the Bankastræti Club in downtown Reykjavík have submitted statements to the Reykjavík District Court. Each of the five defendants offers a different narrative of events leading up to the incident. While some claim they were there to confront and intimidate the victims, others assert they had no prior knowledge of the planned violence.
As noted by RÚV, among the defendants is a man in his 30s who police suspect orchestrated the attack at Bankastræti Club. In his submitted report, he denies all allegations, stating that he initially intended only to intimidate the victims outside the venue. The situation escalated when someone in the group urged everyone to enter the club.
Although he has encountered violence in his role as a doorman, the man insists he is not violent and points to his criminal record as proof. He claims “certain groups” had aimed to remove him from his job to take control of the door supervision (i.e. bouncer services) business he operates. The man also alleges he had been kidnapped and tortured three years ago.
According to the report, the man took security measures, such as placing a fire blanket at his bedroom window to protect against potential petrol bomb attacks. Despite these threats, he has never sought revenge or engaged in violent actions.
On the night in question, his aim was to deter the victims from engaging in “extremely violent behaviour,” as stated in the report. He criticises police investigators for having been bent on painting him as the mastermind of a premeditated attack, despite claims from other defendants that the attack was spontaneous.
Unaware of any weapons
Another defendant stated that the group involved in the incident was fragmented, composed of smaller friend circles that didn’t necessarily interact with one another. As noted by RÚV, court documents corroborate that individuals were participating under different circumstances.
The defendant asserts that he had no prior relationship or conflicts with the victims and minimal interaction with the other accused individuals. He had been persuaded to accompany three friends from Suðurnes to confront the victims, although the report does not specify the intended nature of this confrontation.
The defendant noted that he was only mentioned in police interviews by himself and was unaware of any weapons among the group. He contends that his mere presence at the scene, such as wearing a hat or entering the club, should not constitute grounds for punishment.
Disparate stories among the other three defendants
In his statement, the third defendant explained that he joined the group after an outing with a friend, where they drank beer and played video games. He learned from his friend, a doorman, that people were gathering downtown to intimidate some individuals. Although he followed his friend, he claimed to have stayed at the back of the group and had no intention of active participation. He asserts that he was unaware of any plans beyond scaring the victims to deter them from further threats or attacks.
According to his own account, the fourth defendant was a person of interest for the police and claims to have cooperated fully. He maintains that he was not present on the lower floor of the Bankastræti Club during the incident and was unaware of any plans other than intimidating the victims to cease their threats.
The fifth defendant claims complete ignorance of the event’s particulars, learning of the incident only through next-day media reports. He contends that he could not have posed a threat to the victim as he was not present at the scene.
Larger venue required
Since the number of defendants in the case is unprecedented, the judge had to look outside the district court for suitable accommodation for the main proceedings. The banquet hall Gullhamrar in the Grafarholt neighbourhood of Reykjavík met all the conditions and the main treatment will take place there from September 25 to October 3.