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Suicide sparks outrage

Morgunbladid, RÚV and news station NFS are all reporting that by midnight last night, about 20,000 people, or 15 % of Iceland’s adult population, signed a petition addressed to DV newspaper, which published the name and photo of a man in north Iceland accused of raping two teenage boys. The man commit suicide the day after the publication.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />

The petition asks the editors of newspaper DV to reconsider their editorial policy and show responsibility and respect in their coverage. The website where signatures are being collected, organized by the youth branches of the political parties, student organizations and other youth organizations, crashed temporarily in the afternoon under the weight of hits.

The middle-aged man in Ísafjördur who took his own life left a letter in which he denied the claims but claimed he could not face the pressure of the media coverage of his accusation.

DV’s handling of the case and the death of the man has generated other strong reactions, including a web posting from Hjálmar Árnason, Chairman of the Progressive Party. Hjálmar wrote on his personal website: “DV went over the line and not only committed a character murder, but murder in the actual meaning of the word.”

Dagsbrún hf., the parent company that owns DV’s publisher, will discuss DV and the case at a meeting on Friday. Owners of Dagsbrún include Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson and his father Jóhannes Jónsson of the Baugur Group. Before this case, Jóhannes Jónsson had declared that he detested DV’s editorial policy, and the news service NFS reports that both Björgólfurs are harshly critical of the paper in light of the latest event.

Jónas Kristjánsson, editor of DV, claimed on television show Kastljósid last night that DV had written fairly about the case, with total respect for the paper’s policy that truth must be told. He also said that the views and feelings of those who had made accusations against the man or were about to do so, should also be taken into account. Jónas speculated that if the general public were more conscious of the feelings of the victims, their opinion in the matter would change.

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