Prosecutor Sigrídur Fridjónsdóttir, who represents the Icelandic Althingi parliament in its case against former Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde for misconduct in office in the lead-up to the banking collapse in 2008, dismissed his demands that the eight judges appointed to the High Court (Landsdómur) by the parliament should step down.
Geir H. Haarde speaks to his supporters after the first day of the trial. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.
Haarde’s lawyer Andri Árnason argued when the case against Haarde opened in the High Court on Tuesday that it is doubtful that the eight judges can be objective in their ruling as they were appointed by the parliament. Fridjónsdóttir protested, saying there are no grounds for making such an assumption, ruv.is reports.
One day before the charge was issued in the parliament’s case against Haarde, the parliament approved legal amendments extending the term of the High Court’s judges. Árnason reasoned that with this move, the prosecution, which is the parliament or the legislative assembly in this case, had inappropriate interference with the appointment of the court.
Fridjónsdóttir pointed out that the eight judges appointed by the parliament had been chosen to serve at the High Court six years ago and were therefore not appointed specifically to rule in this case.
She added that obtaining information for this case took longer than expected, among other items because of objections from the accused, therefore she came to the conclusion that the only viable option in the situation was to extend the terms of the judges as they were about to expire—it is a general rule that judges complete the assessment of a case after their involvement in it has begun.
At the rally in Harpa; former Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir shows her support. Photos by Geir Ólafsson.
After the first court session ended on Tuesday, Haarde attended a crowded support rally held at Harpa, the new concert and conference center in Reykjavík. Among the former PM’s supporters is former leader of the Social Democrats Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, who served as foreign minister in Haarde’s government.
Parties to the case are now awaiting a verdict on the ability of the judges.
Click here to read more about the parliament’s case against Haarde.