12-Year-Old Girl Suffers Injuries Following Drain-Cleaner Attack

Metropolitan Police

A twelve-year-old girl suffered severe facial injuries following an attack by a peer with powdered drain cleaner, RÚV reports. The attacker and his cohort, known to the victim, appear to have been inspired by dangerous content on YouTube. A detective with the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police urges parents to monitor their children’s online activity.

Nearby residents provided first aid

A twelve-year-old girl suffered severe facial injuries on Monday after being attacked by a peer, who threw powdered drain cleaner in her face. The incident took place on the grounds of a primary school in Reykjavik.

Having been struck by the substance in both her eyes and mouth, the girl managed to knock on the door of a nearby resident shortly after the attack. They provided her with first aid and called an ambulance.

Guðrún Jack, a detective with the Capital Area Police, told RÚV yesterday that this was the first case of its kind: “We, of course, take this very seriously. It’s obviously very dangerous, and something that the attackers had seen on YouTube.”

As reported by RÚV, the girl knew the boys who attacked her. They have been interviewed by the police and have provided statements. Guðrún revealed that the boys had searched for information on how to make a bomb on YouTube.

“They had been experimenting with bombs using drain cleaner, mixing the substance with water, putting it in a bottle, and shaking it. This causes an explosion. But in this case, the assailant was carrying the substance in a bag and threw it directly at the girl,” Guðrún noted.

Could have been much worse

The girl’s injuries could have been much worse: “I understand from her father that permanent eye damage was prevented thanks to those who assisted her. They reacted just in time.”

The case is under investigation and has been referred to Child Protection Services. Guðrún says the girl is convalescing and urges parents to monitor their children’s online activity: “We fault the parents, of course. That’s just the way it is. It’s our responsibility as parents to guide our children. And we must do our best in that regard.”

Bankastræti Hearing Begins in Banquet Hall

Judge's gavel

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.

Mass Arrests Put Pressure on Already-Strained Prison System

Hólmsheiði prison Iceland

Iceland’s prison system is operating at near maximum capacity. Three times as many individuals are being kept in police custody than usual, the Director General of Prison and Probation Administration has stated.

Record number of custody rulings

The police arrested 27 people following a knife attack at the Bankastræti Club in Reykjavík last Thursday. Twelve suspects have been kept in custody, with the police having yet to decide whether they will request custody over five additional suspects. Four other individuals connected to the attack remain on the lam, some of whom are believed to have fled the country.

Páll Winkel, the Director General of Prison and Probation Administration, told Mbl.is that a total of 60 people are currently being held in police custody – three times the usual number. Aside from the many arrests made in relation to the Bankastræti Club attack, there have also been numerous arrests made in connection with drug busts and violent crimes.

“It does, of course, put tremendous pressure on the system,” Páll observed, “detaining 15 prisoners in isolation. It calls for greater manpower and organisation; you need to safeguard investigative interests, that the prisoners don’t meet, while, at the same time, ensuring that their rights are being respected.”

“These are people aged 19 and up. These are Icelanders and foreigners, men and women, non-disabled and disabled persons, including one individual who’s blind.”

Most of the prisoners are being detained in the Hólmsheiði prison, although some have been transferred to Litla-Hraun. According to Páll, the design of Hólmsheiði has proven advantageous, as there are spaces equally suited to regular confinement and isolation.

Páll predicts that the situation will remain unchanged for a few more days but hopes that that will be the extent of it. “It puts tremendous strain on the system. Also because it happens to coincide with our effort to temporarily decrease the number of prisoners so as to operate within budget constraints.”

Budgetary constraints

Speaking to RÚV, Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson stated that the government had already taken steps to deal with the pressure on the prison system, with extensive renovations at the Litla-Hraun prison expected to be completed next year.

According to Jón Gunnarsson, there have been instances where prison sentences lapse owing to a lack of cells. “We must respond, and we are doing our best,” he stated, admitting that increasing the number of prison cells would take time and that bridging the gap could prove tricky.

“We’re not quite sure how; this additional pressure means additional operational costs, and we’ve even been in the position where we’ve been unable to fully use all of the prison cells because of budgetary constraints … we’re working on it.”

Three Wounded Following Knife Attack in Reykjavík Nightclub

Four people have been arrested following a physical altercation at a Reykjavík nightclub yesterday, RÚV reports. Three men in their early twenties, all of whom had suffered knife wounds, were transported to the ER.

Search warrants executed, four arrested

A group of men barged into the nightclub Bankstræti Club in downtown Reykjavík last night. The group, reportedly dressed in dark clothes, attacked three other men (all of whom are about twenty years old) before absconding from the club. The police were notified at just after 11.30 PM and arrived on the scene quickly, RÚV reports.

The police immediately began searching for the assailants, who are believed to have been inside the club briefly. Dozens of police officers were involved in the investigation and a few search warrants have already been executed.

The Capital Area Police, assisted by special forces, has stated that the investigation is a priority. Investigators aim to determine whether the assault was an act of revenge or a reckoning, RÚV reports. Most of the involved parties are believed to be Icelandic, although details currently remain unclear.

“The police were armed during yesterday’s operations, given the seriousness of the attack,” a statement by the police reads.

Iceland to Take Part in Sanctions Against Russia, Ministers Say

Prime Minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir

Iceland’s Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and President publicly condemned Russian military action in Ukraine this morning. Alþingi, Iceland’s Parliament, discussed the development during question period today, when opposition MP Helga Vala Helgadóttir urged the Justice Minister to declare Ukraine an unsafe country and accept refugees from the country in Iceland. Foreign Minister Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir stated Iceland would take “full part in international sanctions” on Russia.

Iceland’s National Security Council will meet today to discuss the Russian attack on Ukraine, RÚV reports. The meeting was scheduled prior to the attack launched by Russia last night. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated that the most pessimistic predictions of events in Russia and Ukraine have come to pass.

“The Icelandic government and I condemn this attack, of course. This is a serious breach of international law and truly looks as if the worst predictions in this matter have come to pass,” Katrín stated. Asked about Icelandic authorities’ response, she stated that Iceland would collaborate with its allies and NATO, of which it is a founding member.

Unclear whether Russian ambassador will stay

Þórdís Kolbrún was asked whether authorities would consider deporting Russia’s ambassador to Iceland. “We called him to a meeting here yesterday and reviewed our case. Now the priority is really to support what needs to be supported within NATO, monitor closely and review what is happening.  As for the Russian embassy here, it will remain to be seen,” Þórdís stated. The Russian Embassy to Iceland criticised statements from the President of Iceland and the Minister of Foreign Affairs expressing support in Ukraine’s territorial integrity earlier this month, calling them “one-sided” and “subjective.”

During the Icelandic Parliament’s question period this morning, opposition MP Helga Vala Helgadóttir urged Justice Minister Jón Gunnarsson to declare Ukraine an unsafe country today and ease the arrival of refugees from the country. The Minister answered that the issue “should be reviewed” at this point, but made no firm declarations, Kjarninn reports. Jón’s recent actions concerning asylum seekers, including proposed amendments to the Immigration Act, have been criticised by human rights organisations and medical professionals in Iceland.

Six Taken to Hospital Following Reykjavík School Attack

Borgarholtsskóli

No serious injuries resulted from an attack at Borgarholtsskóli junior college in Reykjavík earlier this afternoon, RÚV reports. Six people were, however, taken to hospital due to minor injuries. The school principal says the community is in shock following the incident.

“There was a fight in the toilets and someone got a bloody face or something. Then some guys showed up with a baseball bat, knife, and wrench and just started attacking the guy,” described Heiðar Már Hildarson, a student at the school. The three attackers are young men and do not belong to the school community, according to Borgarholtsskóli Principal Ársæll Guðmundsson.

The Icelandic Special Forces were sent to the school in response to the attack. Hallways were evacuated and students kept in classrooms while police and officials secured the premises. Afternoon classes were subsequently cancelled and students sent home.

Ársæll described the incident as not only an attack on Borgarholtsskóli, but an attack on the democratic tradition of attending school. It is gravely serious that an incident like this can occur as we take for granted that schools are a safe place for all, he explained. “This is simply an attack on our society as a whole.”

The school’s normal schedule will resume tomorrow, according to Ársæll, and the students and staff will have a chance to process the events together and be offered trauma counselling.

Iceland Review will continue to report on the incident as more information becomes available.

Man in Wheelchair Attacked at Home

missing woman

A man in his twenties has been arrested on suspicion of taking part in an attack on a man in a wheelchair at the victim’s own home, RÚV reports.

Per Assistant Chief Constable Guðmundur Páll Jónsson, the attack took place on Thursday morning in an apartment building in downtown Reykjavík. Two men and a woman knocked on the victim’s back window and so the man opened his back door and went out onto the deck to see what they wanted. “As soon as he opened the door, two assailants came running in and turned over his wheelchair so that the man was left lying on the deck outside of his apartment,” reported Guðmundur Páll. The assailants then stole the victim’s computer and other valuables.

Although the victim, who is in his fifties, was obviously suffering from some shock after the attack, he was not seriously injured physically. Police are still looking for the other man and woman who participated in the attack.

Three Arrested in Knife Attack

Police arrested three men in connection with a knife attack in the neighborhood of Grafarholt on the east side of Reykjavík on Friday evening, RÚV reports. Several ambulances and police cars were called to the scene, as well as special forces units.

At the time of writing, one man had been taken to the hospital for stabbing injuries sustained that he sustained during a fight with his attackers. His injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.