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.

Dubliner Gunman Arrested, to Be Held in Custody Until Friday

police lögreglan

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.

25 Indicted in Bankastræti Club Knife Attack, Youngest 19

Héraðsdómur Reykjavíkur Reykjavík District Court

Most of the 25 defendants in the Bankastræti Club case are in their twenties. The oldest is in his forties, while the youngest is 19 years old, RÚV reports. Despite the defendants having registered legal domiciles in different parts of the country, the indictment will be registered in one of the courtrooms of the District Court.

District attorney issues indictment

The district attorney issued an indictment in the Bankastræti Club case last Thursday. A group of masked men barged into the nightclub in November of last year and attacked three men. 25 are charged, one of them for attempted murder, RÚV reports. The latter has a registered legal domicile in Hafnarfjörður and will turn twenty in September. He is the only defendant being held in custody.

The man in custody is said to have stabbed three men, one of whom suffered seven stab wounds: He was stabbed twice in the right shoulder, twice on the right side of his chest, twice in the right thigh, and once in the right forearm. Another victim was stabbed once in the left side and the third once in the right forearm and once in the right thigh.

Ten are then charged with a specially dangerous assault. They are said to have attacked the three victims with kicks and punches. One member of the group is accused of hitting one of the victims repeatedly with a bat.

The other fourteen are accused of participating in the attack. They burst into the club wearing masks, were informed of the intent, and were inside the club during the attack. The prosecutor told RÚV that they thus posed a threat to the three victims and were complicit in the attack.

An unusually large group of defendants

The indictment was received by the Reykjavík District Court on Tuesday. The presiding judge will now assign the case to a judge who issues a summons that must then be served on the defendants.

Chief Judge Ingibjörg Þorsteinsdóttir told RÚV that this was “an unusually large number of defendants.” Ingibjörg was unwilling to comment further on how the proceedings would be conducted as the case had yet to be assigned to a judge; however, it is necessary to consider how best to conduct the proceedings. As noted by RÚV, there are various possibilities in the situation, but the indictment would always be registered in one of the courtrooms of the district court.

Although, according to the indictment, the 25 defendants have registered legal domiciles in different areas of the country – Eskifirður, Hvolsvelli, Sandgerði, Reykjanesbær, Akureyri, Selfoss, and Reykjavík – the summons can be served at the person’s place of residence. Most of the defendants have a place of residence in the capital area, and, as RÚV notes, it has become more and more common for lawyers to be authorised to accept summons on behalf of their clients.

Most of the defendants are in their twenties; two are 19 years old. A few are in their thirties. The oldest is 37 years old. The latter is also charged with weapons and drug offences; the police found brass knuckles, four knives, a baseball bat, an air pistol, and 0.63 grams of cocaine.

About thirty were arrested in connection with the investigation of the case and the attack had several consequences. Police preparedness was increased in the city centre for the following weekends, and the Minister of Justice declared war on organised crime. Both the American and British embassies also asked tourists from these two respective countries to show caution during a night out on the town.

Twenty-Four People Connected to Downtown Knife Attack Released from Custody

police station Hlemmur

Police have released twenty-four people who were being held in connection with the knife attack in downtown Reykjavík last weekend, RÚV reports. Six individuals remain in custody.

A knife attack at the Bankastræti Club nightclub in Reykjavík last weekend left three young men hospitalised, following which, there was a spate of retaliatory crime against the suspects’ families. Petrol bombs were thrown into family members’ homes, windows were broken, and the suspects’ families were also subjected to harassment. Three people have now been arrested for throwing the petrol and smoke bombs.

See Also: Heightened Police Presence in Reykjavík This Weekend

DS Margeir Sveinsson noted that despite the fact that police have released two dozen people connected with the incident, these individuals are still legally considered defendants in the case. “But there’s no need or reason to keep them in custody any longer,” he said. “We’ve managed to determine what happened there and what everyone’s part was. Next step is to process all the data we have, that is, phone data etc. to get a handle on the lead-up [to the event]. But we don’t need to keep people in jail to do that.”

There was initially some fear that the wave of retaliatory crimes would continue, but there was no additional incident on Thursday night, which Margeir said he hoped was a good sign.

“Let’s hope that people will come to their senses and quit this nonsense and that things will calm down a bit.”

Heightened Police Presence in Reykjavík This Weekend

police lögreglan

Partygoers in downtown Reykjavík this weekend can expect an increased presence among police authorities. The Capital Area’s Assistant Chief of Police has told RÚV that the police will “be ready” in the event of retaliatory violence following last weekend’s knife attack.

Spate of violence

Following mass arrests in wake of a knife attack at the Bankastræti Club nightclub in Reykjavík last weekend, which left three young men hospitalised, petrol bombs were thrown into houses, windows broken, and the suspects’ families were subjected to harassment. There were also posts on social media, encouraging retaliation for the attacks. The American and British embassies in Iceland subsequently issued travel advisories to tourists, warning them to avoid large crowds downtown this weekend.

Addressing these issues on the radio programme Morgunútvarpið this morning, Ásgeir Þór Ásgeirsson, Assistant Chief of Police for the Capital Area Police, stated that the police would command a much greater presence in downtown Reykjavík this weekend, in the event that further acts of violence were to be perpetrated.

“As far as we’ve gathered, there were, and are, threats of violence this weekend – and the operations of certain Reykjavík restaurants are expected to be disturbed,” Ásgeir stated. “We’re going to protect our city this weekend – as we’ve always done.”

When asked if individuals connected to the gang violence last weekend were expected to perpetrate further violence, Ásgeir replied that he hoped not. “But law enforcement isn’t predicated on hope. We have to be ready when we say that we’ll be ready and we’ll be ready this weekend.”

Ásgeir was unwilling to offer details on the exact meaning of “an increased presence” among police authorities but stated that they would mobilise more equipment and more officers capable of handling “difficult assignments.” This heightened police presence would not be lost on anyone.

“It’s absolutely clear that the people will feel our presence. We hope that the people involved in these altercations have come to their senses and won’t be dragging their disputes to downtown Reykjavík. I think that that’s something all of us, collectively, have been aiming towards,” Ásgeir stated.

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.”

Petrol Bombs and Threats of Retaliation Following Knife Attack in Downtown Club

police lögreglan

Reykjavík and capital-area police are investigating a series of crimes believed to be connected to the knife attack that occurred at Bankastræti Club in downtown Reykjavík on Thursday night. RÚV reports that in the wake of the attack, which left three young men hospitalized, petrol bombs have been thrown into houses, windows broken, and suspects’ families subjected to harassment. There have also been posts on social media, encouraging retaliation for the attacks. Police believe that the incidents possibly herald the beginnings of a gang war, although this but one possible explanation.

Police still searching for over ten suspects; two have fled the country

A group of almost thirty people, all dressed in dark clothing and masks, barged into Bankastræti Club on Thursday night and attacked three men, all of whom were in their twenties, stabbing them repeatedly before fleeing the scene. The stabbing victims have since posted on social media, seemingly unruffled by the incident, and two of them were also interviewed on FM957 on Saturday. In the interview, they said that one of them had been stabbed a total of seven times, but was feeling pretty good, all things considered, or “like a king,” as he put it.

As of Saturday, fourteen of those involved in the attack had been arrested and nine had been sentenced to two weeks in police custody. Police were still searching for over ten of the remaining suspects, although their identities were believed to be known. Two suspects have fled the country.

Over the weekend, police called for anyone involved in the incident to come forward, but only one person did. A search of suspects’ phone data is also underway, but police say this will be an extensive and intensive process.

Stress on prison system

The scope of the incident and the number of people remanded into custody is already straining the local prison system’s capacity, as it is unusual for so many people to be held at once. Halldór Valur Pálsson, director of the Icelandic prison system, says that while prison officials in no way anticipated an incident of this scope and with this many detainees, Icelandic prisons still have enough capacity to deal with the situation at present. But things could become serious, he says, if a gang war is, in fact, underway.

“It absolutely threatens the safety of the staff and other prisoners as well, if this kind of conflict is going on,” he said. “If there are gang conflicts happening out in society, they also find their ways into the prisons in the end.”

The capacity issue is not just a question of being able to hold suspects while the police investigate, however. It also has a knock-on effect for those waiting to serve a prison sentence. New measures have been introduced in recent years that allow convicted individuals to serve their sentences outside of prison walls, for instance by means of electronic surveillance or community service. But there is still a waiting list for those who are actually required to serve their sentences in prison. These individuals must wait to serve their sentences until a facility has room for them. There are currently 317 individuals waiting to serve their prison sentences.

Stabbing may be linked to motorcycle fire

Police say that the investigation is progressing well, considering its scope. The inciting incident has yet to be confirmed, but it’s possible that the stabbings were related to two motorcycles that were set on fire in Álftamýri on the east side of Reykjavík last Wednesday night.

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.