The official charge against former Prime Minister of Iceland Geir H. Haarde before the High Court (Landsdómur) for serious misconduct in office of various kinds in the lead-up to the banking collapse in 2008 was sent to his defendant, Andri Árnason, on Tuesday.
Former Prime Minister of Iceland Geir H. Haarde. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.
The charge is in two parts, the first of which is divided into five items. In the charge it is maintained that Haarde could have averted the collapse but failed to do so. The maximum punishment for these violations is two years in prison, Fréttabladid reports.
The document reads: “[Haarde is being charged] for violations made intentionally or in absolute recklessness in office as prime minister from February 2008 and until the beginning of October that same year.”
Point 1.5 states: “…For not having followed up on and made sure that it was being worked on in an active manner to relocate Landsbanki’s Icesave accounts in the UK to a subsidiary and then sought means to further its progress with active participation of the state authority.”
Árnason was also notified by President of the High Court that Haarde is to appear before the court on June 7 at 1:30 pm to attend the filing of the case against him.
Sigrídur J. Fridjónsdóttir, the prosecutor representing Althingi, the Icelandic parliament, in its case against Haarde, said she expects pleadings with statements from Haarde and witnesses will begin in the fall.
Árnason is critical of the charge, saying it is almost word-for-word the same as the parliamentary resolution on the charge against Haarde and that no argumentation has been added as assumed by the law in the case of such complex items of an indictment.
“I wasn’t really surprised that the charge reflected Althingi’s resolution—because it is assumed that the prosecutor is limited to it—but I did expect the prosecutor to present arguments to support the case,” Árnason commented.
“These items of the charge are fuzzy and vague, to say the least, and therefore I was most eager to hear the argumentation,” Árnason added. He expects to receive almost 4,000 pages of annexes shortly.
Haarde himself is also critical of the charge, commenting on the news on the Bylgjan radio station at noon yesterday that he finds it strange that it has taken Althingi’s prosecutor seven months to copy the parliament’s resolution almost word-for-word.
Haarde also mentions the lack of argumentation. He believes the charge against him should have been issued in October last year, immediately after the parliament decided he should face charges.
Fridjónsdóttir also submitted a list of witnesses, which contains 43 names. These include former ministers, undersecretaries of ministries, Central Bank governors and the directors of all the three collapsed banks.
Click here to read more about the case against Haarde and related stories.