The prosecution defined embezzlement for the judges in a special court session in the Baugur case today, while the defendant’s counsel called the indictment “sloppy”.
In the special session, prompted by a letter from the judges indicating that certain aspects of the indictment could be flawed, the prosecution requested that all charges be kept. The defendant’s counsel said that, in light of the flaws, the only possible move was to dismiss either the flawed charges or the entire case.
On August 26th the judge stated in a letter to the prosecution and defendants that “certain aspects of the indictment may be flawed to the extent that rectification may not be possible in the course of proceedings and that therefore it may not be possible to pronounce judgment regarding material aspects of the case.”
The possible flaws, indicated by the judge, relate to charges concerning breach of trust, embezzlement, and violations of the commercial code.
In today’s special session the prosecution and defendants were allowed to present their case on the so called “flaws” in 18 of the 40 charges.
Jón Snorrason, prosecutor and head of the Economic Crime Division of the Office of the National Commissioner of Police, spoke for over an hour. He started by defining embezzlement and breech of trust. The judge cut him off and told him that he recognized the definitions. Jón then went step by step over each charge. He cited other verdicts including the recent Iceland Telco embezzlement case and the embezzlement case of former MP Árni Johnsen. He also pointed out that on the first day of the proceedings the defendants had all pleaded innocent when the charges were read, implying that the charges were clear enough. He moved that the entire indictment should stand.
Television station, Stöð 2, pointed out that it was of interest that the judges saw no reason to ask Jón one question, even though the judges themselves had called for this special session.
Gestur Jónsson, Jón Ásgeir’s defense counsel emphasized the text of the letter: “certain aspects of the indictment may be flawed to the extent that rectification may not be possible in the course of proceedings and that therefore it may not be possible to pronounce judgment regarding material aspects of the case.”
According to Morgunbladid Gestur also said that the indictment was sloppy and not enough effort or time was put into completing it. He said that according to court documents the questioning was completed at 16:45 on the 30th of June; the indictment was published on July 1.
In an interview with television station Stöð 2 the prosecutor said it was unclear what it was that the judges had sought. Gestur, on the other hand, said it was clear that letters, similar to the one sent by the judges, are not written unless the judges have concluded that it it is obvious that the indictment is flawed, making it impossible to try the case or remedy the charges according the rules that apply in such cases.
The defense counsel presented a summary of expenses incurred by the defendants, for the record, in the event that the whole case is dismissed. According to anonymous sources, the claims for legal expenses amount to between 30 and 40 million Icelandic króna; 20 million thereof are attributable to the defense counsel of Baugur CEO Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson.
The judges will decide if the full indictment will be approved, if individual charges will be dismissed or if the entire case will be dismissed. The decision will be announced on Tuesday, September 20th. The decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court of Iceland.