Police Deny Skin Colour a Factor in Christmas Arrest

Police

28 year old Brian Gona was arrested on his way home from work Christmas Eve, detained in a cell and interrogated for not being able to show his ID card. The incident has prompted the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police to state that they do not arrest anyone for the sole reason of being Black, Heimildin reports.

Mother describes interrogation

Þórunn Helgadóttir, Brian’s stepmother, described the incident in a Facebook post Tuesday. She said Brian, the son of her Kenyan husband, was heading from work to catch a bus at Hlemmur bus station around 18:00 on Christmas Eve when the police stopped him. She said they accused him of lying to them when he told them his name and personal identification number. Instead of driving him to his home in Breiðholt to look at his ID card, Þórunn said the police drove Brian to the Hlemmur police station, confiscated his phone, yelled at him, and denied him water and bathroom access.

Þórunn added that the officers repeatedly asked Brian for permission to search his home for illegal drugs, which he didn’t grant. She said the only plausible reason for their actions is Brian’s skin colour. Þórunn said that when the police finally brought Brian home and looked at his passport, the officers quickly left when they learned he’d been in the country since 2014 and called Þórunn “mum”.

Police say details don’t fit

Superintendent Ásmundur Rúnar Gylfason told Heimildin that Þórunn’s description of events doesn’t match the experience of the police that night. He said that he couldn’t comment on individual cases, but did confirm that a person had been detained Christmas Eve for refusing to reveal their identity. The person had also not been able to confirm who they were with identification. “This individual was detained by police on the basis of a tip that a person had been asleep at the wheel of a stopped car on the East side,” Ásmundur said.

This case, which doesn’t match Þórunn’s description, was the only case of someone being arrested Christmas Eve for theses causes, Ásmundur said. He added that recordings of all communications exist. “And the police is not worried about what they reveal,” Ásmundur said. “The police doesn’t arrest anyone on the sole basis of them being Black.”

Dubliner Gunman Arrested, to Be Held in Custody Until Friday

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The man suspected of having fired a gun inside the pub The Dubliner in downtown Reykjavík last weekend will be held in custody until 4 PM Friday, Vísir reports. The gunman was arrested Monday evening, following a 24-hour manhunt.

Suspect fled from the scene

Shortly after 7 PM Sunday, the capital area police were notified that a man had fired a gun inside The Dubliner bar in downtown Reykjavík. The bullet struck a wall adjacent to the bar, and the shooter fled the scene immediately.

The police responded quickly, dispatching a large unit, alongside special forces and ambulances, to the scene. Although no serious injuries were suffered, two bar patrons did require treatment: one suffered a cut on his head while the other expressed concerns about his hearing.

The police later recovered a firearm near the scene.

Following a 24-hour manhunt, the gunman – who is in his late twenties – was arrested on Monday evening. After interrogations yesterday, the man was brought before a judge shortly before 5 PM. The police requested that he be detained for a week, but the judge only agreed to hold him until 4 PM on Friday.

During a statement to the news on Monday, Grímur Grímsson, the Detective Chief Superintendent, did not rule out the possibility of a connection between this event and the knife attack that took place at the Bankastræti Club last year.

Would-Be Terrorists Discussed Killing Minister Guðlaugur Þór

Minister for Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson.

The two men being held in police custody accused of planning a domestic terrorism attack in Iceland had reportedly discussed killing Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson – Minister of the Environment, Energy, and Climate.

The “first investigation of its kind” in Iceland

Four Icelandic men were arrested on September 21 suspected of “terrorist plots” against state institutions and civilians. Two of the suspects were immediately released; the other two have remained in custody. Last Friday, the District Court of Reykjavík approved the District Attorney’s request to extend their custody by four weeks.

According to the police, the suspects had hoarded numerous weapons – including dozens of semi-automatic guns and 3D-printed components – alongside a considerable amount of ammunition. The men, both of whom are in their twenties, had reportedly discussed carrying out an attack during the police’s annual celebration (which was held on October 1).

Politicians among would-be targets

Yesterday, RÚV reported that the suspects had also discussed killing Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister of the Environment, Energy, and Climate. The Chief of Police reportedly notified the Minister of the suspects’ intentions prior to calling the Minister in for questioning.

As reported on October 10, the suspects had also discussed targeting Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir and Gunnar Smári Egilsson, chairperson of the Socialist Party. The names of current and former Pirate Party politicians were also mentioned as possible targets.

The police have asked a psychiatrist to assess the earnestness of the remarks made by the men during private messages, with the suspects’ lawyers contending that the threats were empty. Chief Police Inspector Karl Steinar Valsson has stated that this is the “first investigation of its kind” to be launched in Iceland.

Police Staff Party Was Possible Target of Would-Be Terrorists

police press conference terrorism arrest

Four Icelandic men, arrested for plotting an act of terrorism against state institutions, may have been targeting a police staff party that was planned for October 1. This according to the sources of mbl.is. While police are investigating whether the men are connected to alt-right groups, the representatives of Neo-Nazi group Norðurvígi have denied that they have any connection to the four men.

The four men, who were arrested on Wednesday, September 21, were all in their twenties. In a press conference yesterday, Chief Police Inspector Karl Steinar Valsson stated that this was the first investigation of its kind in Iceland. Police also stated it was safe to assume either parliament or the police themselves may have been targets for the planned terrorist act.

Neo-Nazi group Norðurvígi (the Icelandic branch of the Nordic Resistance Movement) sent a statement to media following coverage of the arrests that denied their members were involved in planning terrorist acts. “We at the Nordic Resistance Movement want to immediately issue a statement following the discussion in the media that we are NOT connected to any extremist groups and do NOT have people in our ranks who intend to commit acts of terrorism,” the statement reads, in part.

Police have reiterated that the public is not at risk.

Four Arrested for Intended Domestic Terrorism

iceland terrorism

Four Icelandic men were arrested yesterday, September 21, for terroristic plots against state institutions and civilians.

In the press conference which took place at 3pm today, the police have stated it is safe to assume either parliament or the police themselves may have been targets. The police have so far not been forthcoming with details of the arrests.

Stundin reports that the suspects are men in their twenties and were found to have hoarded a number of weapons, including dozens of semiautomatic guns and large amounts of ammunition. Nine houses are reported to have been searched. Semiautomatic weapons are considered especially deadly, as they can hold high-capacity magazines.

According to Stundin, the suspects may be connected to other international organizations under investigation by the police.

At the press conference, Chief Police Inspector Karl Steinar Valsson stated, “It’s safe to say that our society is safer than it was before.” He continued: “This is the first investigation of its kind to be launched in Iceland. Of course, we don’t want to reveal what the exact police response was. But at the height of the operation, 50 police personnel took part.”

The case is still developing, but as Stundin notes, acts of terrorism can carry a maximum sentence of  life imprisonment in Iceland. In addition to violent terroristic acts, financing terrorism can carry a maximum sentence of 10 years, and inciting terroristic acts can carry a maximum sentence of 6 years.

The men are also suspected of having 3D-printed components of the firearms in question.

This is a developing story and details are subject to change. Iceland Review will update coverage of the story as it develops.

 

 

 

 

Suspected Shooter Institutionalised for Four Weeks

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A man suspected of a shooting that took place in Hafnarfjörður yesterday, in the Reykjavík capital area, will be institutionalised for four weeks, RÚV reports. The ruling points to the suspect’s mental condition being a factor in the suspected crime. Special forces were called out to Miðvellir street in Hafnarfjörður yesterday morning after an individual fired a weapon at two cars.

The two cars were parked between an apartment building and a preschool. A man was in one of the cars with his five-year-old son at the time of the incident. No injuries were sustained as a result of the shooting. Following the incident, police cordoned off the area and negotiated with the suspect, who is in his sixties. He emerged from his apartment and did not resist arrest.

Nearly 30 police officers were involved in the response to the incident, including special forces. People located in the apartment building and the preschool were told to stay put while the suspect was being apprehended. Police have encouraged anyone who was affected by the incident and requires support to call the Red Cross helpline at 1717.

One in Custody Following Shooting in Reykjavík

police station Hlemmur

A man in his 20s is in custody following reports of a shooting in the Grafarholt neighbourhood of Reykjavík between 3:00 and 4:00 AM last night. A man and woman were both shot while standing outdoors in the neighbourhood, according to a police statement sent to media. Both were transported to the emergency ward, where their wounds were attended to. Neither is in critical condition.

The police mobilised their special forces unit in response to the shooting, making the arrest in central Reykjavík this morning. The investigation is in its early stages, but police believe that the general public is not in danger. No further information was provided about the case, but police stated a press released would be issued later today.

Hospitalised for Injuries Sustained in Arrest

A Palestinian asylum seeker was hospitalised on Tuesday with injuries sustained when he was arrested by police at a Directorate of Immigration office, Vísir reports. Pictures in Vísir’s possession confirm the man sustained injuries to his head and body as well as showing evidence that he was injected twice. A second Palestinian asylum seeker arrested at the scene has reportedly been deported from the country.

The arrest was first reported on by activist group Refugees in Iceland. The two men went to the Hafnarfjörður office after they were called in to pick up vaccination certificates and were arrested shortly after their arrival. At least one witness stated that police used excessive force in the arrest and Refugees in Iceland stated that police deleted video footage recorded by a witness on their phone.

Read More: Asylum Seekers Arrested at Immgration Office

Mannlíf interviewed Shoukri Abolebda, the asylum seeker who was taken to emergency. He showed the outlet medical records from multiple countries, including Iceland, confirming that he has epileptic seizures due to a head injury sustained in childhood. The Directorate of Immigration was aware of his medical condition when the arrest, in which he sustained further head injuries, took place.

The Police Commissioner’s Chief Legal Office Helgi Valberg Jensson would not comment on the case when contacted by Vísir neither to confirm the deportation reported yesterday not whether Shoukri would be deported today. The case will be referred to a police supervision committee, but Helgi stated there was as of yet no indication police used excessive force during the arrest. He confirmed that the police were wearing body cameras during the arrest and that the incident was also captured by the building’s surveillance cameras.

One Man in Custody Following Death on Easter Weekend

One man is in custody following the death of a 30-year-old man in the Reykjavík capital area last weekend, Vísir reports. The incident was reported last Friday morning when the victim’s girlfriend found him heavily injured in the parking lot outside their Kópavogur home. Authorities suspect he was struck by a car.

 

The victim was named Daníel Eiríksson and was born in 1990. Three Romanian citizens were arrested on Saturday in connection with the incident and two were released. The man in custody says the incident was an accident and he is devastated as a result, according to his counsel.

 

The three men that were arrested in connection to the incident were around the same age as the victim. Police are investigating whether there were any witnesses to the incident as well as whether it was recorded by security cameras.

Death Following Arrest Raises Questions Over Police Conduct

A 25-year-old woman died in Iceland last spring following a conflict with police, who interfered while she was in a psychotic state. The police officers were not charged even though a forensic specialist confirmed that their actions played a significant role in her death. Vísir reported on the case.

Hekla Lind Jónsdóttir was a good student with an interest in health and exercise. She began bodybuilding at the age of 18, and a short while later began using prescription drugs to aid in the process. They proved a gateway to other drugs, including amphetamines and cocaine, the use of which led to psychotic episodes. One such episode led to her arrest and, shortly after, her death.

The incident

Last April, Hekla’s parents received a call that she had gone into cardiac arrest and been taken to hospital. When they arrived, their daughter was hooked up to a breathing machine showing few vital signs. She was pronounced dead a few hours later.

Hekla had consumed amphetamine, cocaine, and sedatives the previous night, which had precipitated a psychotic episode. Her friends had called the emergency line several times to request an ambulance. Instead, two police officers appeared at the scene, which witnesses say increased Hekla’s state of agitation. Hekla attempted to run away but was eventually caught and arrested by police.

Two minutes and 14 seconds after handcuffing Hekla, the two police officers called for an ambulance, stating that she was barely conscious. Preliminary findings from the autopsy suggest that lying facedown in a constricted position while being handcuffed could have led to Hekla’s cardiac arrest.

“She died in the middle of the fight, that’s totally crazy, she died,” said one of the officers to the other after returning to the police car. While one witness heard the arrest take place, none saw the incident. The autopsy report, however, states that the police officers’ testimonies are not entirely consistent with Hekla’s injuries.

The case

The District Attorney investigated the case last year but dropped it at the end of the summer as it was considered unlikely to lead to a conviction. The case was appealed to the Attorney General, who confirmed the decision. Hekla’s parents, however, are convinced the officers used unnecessary force and their method of arrest is what led to her death. Both the Capital Area Police Department and the Reykjavík Police Association declined to comment on the case.