A hearing involving 25 defendants, most in their twenties, began yesterday in Reykjavík, though not in a traditional courtroom. As the District Court of Reykjavík did not have a courtroom large enough to accommodate the number of people involved in the case, an alternative venue needed to be found. The court eventually settled on a banquet hall in the suburban neighbourhood of Grafarvogur, which was then adapted to the purposes of the hearing, though not without issues.
25 attackers, three victims
The hearing centres on a knife attack at Bankastræti Club in downtown Reykjavík in November 2022 when a group of masked men barged into the nightclub in November of last year and attacked three men. Twenty-five people have been charged in the case: one for attempted murder, ten for “specially dangerous assault,” and the other fourteen for participating in the attack. The three victims sustained stab wounds and other injuries.
Banquet hall turned courtroom
“I don’t remember that there have been so many defendants and defence attorneys and other witnesses gathered in one place in a court case in Iceland,” defence attorney Ómar R. Valdimarsson told RÚV reporters at the banquet hall yesterday.
“We know this hall well because we’ve come here for confirmation parties and wedding parties. So it’s a bit of a different atmosphere,” stated Jón Þór Ólason, a defence attorney for one of the defendants.
Coffee shortage ruffles lawyers
Attorneys have criticised the unusual location and its constraints. Among other things, lawyers complained that there was no coffee available at the location. Some headed to a nearby KFC to satisfy their caffeine cravings while others resorted to purchasing energy drinks from a shop at the location. After a recess, Judge Sigríður Hjaltested who is overseeing the hearing stated that the coffee issue would hopefully be resolved by the following day.
Reykjavík District Court Judge Ingibjörg Þorsteinsdóttir stated the banquet hall was chosen for the hearing as it “turned out to be the room that would be the simplest to convert into a courtroom and for the least amount of money, although it still costs a lot.”
At the beginning of yesterday’s session, Judge Sigríður Hjaltested announced that the media would not be permitted to report on the contents of the hearing just yet, but the ban would probably be lifted on Thursday.