“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.