A man who was arrested following a fatal house fire last June will remain in custody, RÚV reports. Reykjavík District Court has confirmed his continued custody until September 18. The man is believed to have started the fire, which killed three individuals and left others in hospital with serious injuries. The incident is being investigated as voluntary manslaughter.
In a detention order from July 15, when the suspect’s detention was first extended, stated the man was suspected of violating Article 211 of the General Penal Code. The article stipulates that a person who takes another person’s life shall be sentenced to no less than five years in prison and up to life imprisonment.
According to police, the investigation into the incident is going well.
Building Was a Ticking Time Bomb
The house, situated on Bræðraborgarstígur 1, is 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. At the time, a Reykjavík city building inspector commented that the house was to be inspected. Investigative journalism programme Kveikur took up the matter of illegal residence in the house in 2017. The registered owner of the house is local contractor HD Verk, whose owners have not made any comments on the fire. The building had also been rented by temporary work agencies Seigla and Menn í Vinnu.
“We’ve had a ticking time bomb here for years regarding [foreign workers’] conditions,” stated CEO of Efling Union Viðar Þorsteinnson in an interview on the fire. Viðar criticised the Ministry of Justice for placing emphasis on arresting undocumented workers while “Employers who are responsible for this activity, who are the perpetrators of criminal activity on the Icelandic labour market – they walk free.”