Report Suggests Decreased Fine Collection Leads to Increase in Offenses

Héraðsdómur Reykjavíkur Reykjavík District Court

The Icelandic National Audit Office (INAO) recently published a report on the collection of court fines, stating that since 2014, some ISK 1.3 billion (9.1 million USD, 8.4 million EUR) in court fines have either lapsed or been written off. Now, district attorney Ólafur Þór Hauksson has expressed his concern that this perceived lack of consequences may lead to an increase in offences.

See also: Prison Sentences Expire Due to Lack of Cell Space

In a statement on RÁS 2, Ólafur said: “Of course, we have to think about the deterrent effect of the work we are doing. So we agree with the state auditor that in order for the deterrent to be effective, the punishments must have some consequences.”

It came forth in the report that higher fines, in excess of ISK 10 million (70,200 USD, 64,700 EUR) were only collected in around 2% of cases. Notably, the Icelandic National Audit Office published a report with similar findings some 13 years ago and suggested changes to be implemented. Little, however, has been done in the intervening years to reform the problem.

The district attorney expressed his fear that the lack of meaningful deterrence could severely undermine law enforcement in Iceland.

“We are trying to confront this today, both by securing funding for fine collection, as well as confiscating illegal gains to try to stop this trend,” Ólafur stated to RÁS 2.


Court Denies Erla’s Request for Retrial

Guðmundur og Geirfinnur case Supreme court

In a decision handed down September 14, Erla Bolladóttir’s request for a retrial was denied. The court cited a lack of new developments in the case, and ordered Erla to pay some ISK 3 million in fees.

Convicted in 1980 in the notorious Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case, Erla has since fought for a retrial. Now, with her appeal rejected, she suggested at a press conference held Wednesday, September 21, that she may appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

Read more: States Opposes Compensation in Guðmundur and Geirfinnur Case

“The condition for applying to the Human Rights Court is that you have exhausted all domestic means,” Erla said at the press conference. “This judgment of the court is the final word in this country, so it is definitely something I will consider.”

Erla also stated that she intended to pursue her fight for justice, saying that she was recently diagnosed with cancer: “Does anyone think I’m going to spend my last days lying to the world about this injustice?”

Read more: Compensation Awarded in Guðmundur and Geirfinnur Case

The Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case is one of the most controversial and notorious criminal cases in Iceland’s modern history, revolving around the disappearance of two young men, Guðmundur and Geirfinnur, in 1974. Six individuals were ultimately convicted in connection to the case, but the extreme interrogation measures taken by the police, including sleep deprivation, drugs, and water torture, have caused many to question the legitimacy of the confessions. The convicts have previously stated that they signed the confessions in order to put an end to their solitary confinements, which, in Erla’s case, was for 242 days.

The case has been described as one of the most serious miscarriages of justice in Europe by foreign media.

In 2018, a retrial of the case led to five acquittals, though this notably did not apply to Erla who was also charged with perjury in the case.

At the time of writing, around 1,100 have signed a petition in support of Erla’s retrial.


Icelander Róbert Spano Elected President of European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights elected Icelander Róbert Ragnar Spano as its new President yesterday. He will take office on May 18, 2020, succeeding Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos, from Greece. At 47, Róbert is the youngest president in the 61-year history of the European Court of Human Rights.

Róbert was born in Reykjavík, Iceland in 1972, and studied law at the University of Iceland before completing a Magister Juris degree in European and Comparative Law at the University of Oxford. Róbert served as a legal advisor and deputy to the Parliamentary Ombudsman in Iceland and taught at the University of Iceland’s Faculty of Law, where he served as Dean from 2010-2013.

Róbert has been a judge of the European Court of Human Rights since November 2013 and Vice President of the Court since May 5, 2019. He speaks five languages: Icelandic, English, Italian, French, and Danish.