Erla Bolladóttir says that re-opening the now-world-famous ‘Guðmundur and Geirfinnur’ murder case is extremely important.
“Being held on false suspicion is something which never leaves you in peace; I’m not talking about some small matter. Whatever happens, I will never stop being the personification of this case,” Erla says – adding that there are two things which are most important about re-opening the case.
“I want my descendents to be sure that their grandmother and great grandmother was innocent. It is also important for society. This case has created a lot of mistrust towards the justice system and it’s important to clean that up, otherwise it will continue to be a cancer in the system.”
Erla is talking about a controversial double murder investigation in the 1970s in which a group of young people, Erla included, was held at length, without being charged. The case eventually went to court based mostly on confessions from the suspects, now widely believed to have been unreliable.
Last month, the BBC separately presented a highly illustrative in-depth feature on the case. It is a very detailed and engaging article.
Erla took a decision to try and get the case re-opened in 2000; submitting a request for a spokesman to be appointed in her case for re-opening.
She says the request was clumsily dealt with by the Supreme Court of Iceland and her application was wrongly dealt with as a request for the case to be re-opened and not as a request for the appointment of a spokesman on the case – “but I only had a small sample of the evidence I intended to use,” she says. The request was rejected.
She says that the Supreme Court decision left her with no other options at that time. However, now that a special committee on the re-opening of cases has been established, it will be possible to apply again. This, combined with the criticisms raised by a working group appointed to look into the famous 1970s case, means that Erla’s lawyer now intends, in the next few days, to submit a formal request for the case to be re-opened.
“The conclusion of the working group was that, beyond all reasonable doubt, my testimony had been unreliable, both to the police and before the court. That means that it is not permissible to use the testimony as the basis for a conviction,” Erla told Vísir.is.
Ragnar Aðalsteinsson, Erla’s lawyer, says the case is very large and involves a massive amount of evidence. It is therefore not possible to predict when the committee will make a decision.