The state has requested an acquittal for the compensation claim of Guðjón Skarphéðinsson, RÚV reports. Guðjón was acquitted in the infamous Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case, last year. Guðojón requested ISK 1.3b (€9.4m, $10.4m) as compensation related to the case, which is considered one of the gravest miscarriages of justice in Iceland’s history.
The state believes that the laws which were in place when the case took place are in effect for Guðjón’s case, Vísir reports.. Previously, authorities had indicated a willingness to settle for damages. Guðjón was the first of the acquitted five to claim compensation. The compensation started in June this year, following the acquittal in September 2018. After the settlement discussion failed, Guðjón took the state to court for compensation.
The state lawyer also believes that Guðjón himself played a part in his wrongful ruling, RÚV reports.
“It’s a surprise that the state took this stance in this matter, as it has already admitted grave misconduct by imprisoning these people for years. It’s a surprise that the state takes no responsibility and intends to tread on their rights,” Guðjón’s lawyer Ragnar Aðalsteinsson said. “This means that the state intends to fight tooth and claw in the law court against all compensation claims,” Ragnar claimed.
Acquittal in Guðmundur and Geirfinnur Case
The Supreme Court of Iceland acquitted Sævar Cieselski, Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson, Kristján Viðar Júlíusson, Guðjón Skarphéðinsson, and Albert Klahn Skaftason, Vísir reports. The individuals were charged for the murders of Guðmundur Einarsson and Geirfinnur Einarsson in 1974, for which the fivesome received sentences in 1980.
Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case
The case revolves around the disappearance of two men, Guðmundur and Geirfinnur, in 1974. Six people were ultimately convicted of the murders of these two men based on confessions extracted by members of the police force. These confessions are believed to be faulty due to extreme length and intensity of the interrogations. Furthermore, there was a complete lack of bodies, a known crime scene, witnesses or forensic evidence. Murders are few and far between in Iceland and even more so in the 70s. There was tremendous pressure on police authorities to identify and sentence the culprits. It is believed that this pressure led to the extreme methods performed in order to extract confessions.
The six individuals eventually charged with the murders were Sævar Ciesielski, Kristján Viðar Júlíusson, Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson, Albert Klahn Skaftason, Guðjón Skarphéðinsson, and Erla Bolladóttir. Among the methods used by police to gain confessions were lengthy stays in isolation, water torture, sleep deprivation, drugs, and a lack of contact with lawyers. Sævar Cieselski had to endure the longest stay in custody, a total of 1533 days, 615 of those in solitary confinement. He received the heaviest sentence, a maximum prison stay of 17 years. Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson was kept in solitary confinement for 655 days in total. Tryggvi’s stay is believed to be one of the longest stays in solitary confinement outside of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.