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Baugur case filed today

The Baugur case will be filed at the District Court of Reykjavík at 1:30 pm today. The judge will ask how the defendants plead to the charges and formally file the charges and evidence. The plaintiff is Jón H. Snorrasson, prosecutor and head of the economic crime division of the office of the National Commissioner of Police.

Those indicted are: Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, CEO of Baugur; Tryggvi Jónsson, former CEO of Baugur; Jón Ásgeir’s father and business partner, Jóhannes Jónsson; Jón Ásgeir’s sister, business partner and CEO of investment company Gaumur, Kristín Jóhannesdóttir; and two auditors, Stefán Hilmarsson and Anna Þórðardóttir, both of KPMG Iceland.

Three judges will hear the case, Pétur Gudgeirsson has been appointed chief judge but the other two judges have not been named.

The proceedings are open to the public. Neither cameras nor recording devices are allowed in the courtroom, but according to Morgunbladid the judge can make exceptions in special circumstances.

After the case has been filed with the court, the main proceedings commence. The prosecutor will briefly review the charges and the supporting evidence. Then the defendants and witnesses will be questioned. After questioning, the prosecution and the defense will state their respective cases to the court. The prosecution starts; each party can present a verbal statement two times. After formal proceedings are over, the judges will convene to render a verdict. Under law, they are obliged to come to a verdict within three weeks after proceedings have finished.

It is difficult to say how long long the trial will take, the case is extensive, according to Morgunbladid there are over 20,000 relevant case documents. This could mean that the District Court will render a verdict before Christmas.

Whatever the outcome of the District Court it is likely that the case will appealed to the Supreme Court. Morgunbladid reports that with a margin of error of a couple of months the Supreme Court verdict can be expected the fall of 2006.

Morgunbladid reports that in keeping with the Information Rights Act the case documents will not be made public for 80 years.

The original case documents are preserved with the court, but the court is obliged to transfer the documents to the National Archives within 30 years. A spokesperson for the National Archives told Morgunbladid that because of lack of storage space the institution prefers not to receive documents from public institutions until when they are 30 years old. “Our storage facilities are big enough, but we are lacking in shelves,” he said. According to the spokesperson, in order to add shelve space the National Archives have to make certain changes to their facilities, but they have not received the necessary funding.

A spokesperson for the District Court of Reykjavík told Morgunbladid that only persons or organizations who could demonstrate that they had direct interests under Icelandic law would be given access to the case documents.

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