Suspect in Bræðraborgarstígur Fire Not Criminally Responsible Skip to content

Suspect in Bræðraborgarstígur Fire Not Criminally Responsible

By Yelena

Bræðaborgarstígur fire
Photo: Jelena Ciric. The house on Bræðraborgarstígur where three were killed in a fire, June 2020.

A man in his 60s who is suspected of causing the Reykjavík house fire that killed three individuals last summer has been ruled not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder, RÚV reports. The ruling was made based on a psychiatric reassessment that confirmed a previous assessment. The man was charged with manslaughter last September after being in custody for 12 weeks.

Main Hearing in April

The case was heard in the Reykjavík District Court today. The suspect’s counsel requested that he be tried behind closed doors, which the judge rejected. The prosecution intends to call 35 witnesses before the court. The defence attorney has also requested that two police reports be submitted for consideration to determine whether they are related to the case. The reports concern two individuals arrested at the scene of the fire for obstructing response crews. The ruling will involve more than one judge and the main hearing will take place on April 27.

Thousands Living in Inadequate Housing

The house that burned down was located at Bræðraborgarstígur 1 in Reykjavík’s Vesturbær neighbourhood and was on a list of illegal residential housing published by the fire brigade in 2017. The building was reported on as far back as 2015 in Stundin newspaper regarding sub-standard housing for foreign workers and was covered two years later by the TV programme Kveikur, which did an investigation of illegal residence in the house.

The three individuals who died in the fire were all Polish citizens. The families of the victims have begun legal proceedings of their own against both the suspect and the owner of the house. The fire set off public discussion on the conditions facing many foreign workers in Iceland. A government report commissioned in the wake of the fire found that thousands are living in non-residential buildings in Iceland, where fire safety measures are often inadequate and put their lives at risk.

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