Five teenagers ages 16 and 18 were arrested the night of March 17 on suspicion of having drugs in their vehicle. They spent the night in prison, but the “drugs” turned out to be chewing gum wrapped in tin foil.
The five young men had illegally driven into the bus lane at Hlemmur bus terminal in downtown Reykjavík and were stopped by police, Fréttabladid reports.
The police officers said they had noticed “suspicious movement” in the back of the car and asked if they could search the vehicle, and the driver agreed.
Police found a substance wrapped in tin foil underneath one of the seats, which later turned out to be gum, and arrested the teenagers. They were strip searched and spent the night in prison. They were not allowed to call their parents until 2 am.
One of the mothers, Gudrún Thórarinsdóttir, said the police officers had told her the boys could not be released because they had been arrested with “a considerable amount of drugs.”
On Sunday, March 18, the boys were released without any explanation.
The following Monday, Reykjavík police chief Geir Jón Thórisson, held a meeting with the teenagers’ parents and apologized for the police officers’ behavior.
Thórisson told Fréttabladid the officers had shown carelessness in regards to their work methods with the alleged crime, adding that the officers had been reprimanded.
Thórarinsdóttir said she would not sue the police, but that she has come out with the story to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
“Our children were treated in an awful way. They did not resist yet they were handcuffed and banged to the hood of the car […]. How are they supposed to trust the police after this?”