Prosecution Seeks 8 Year Sentence in Bankastræti Case

Judge's gavel

Morgunblaðið reports that the prosecution in the Bankastræti Club case is seeking a minimum sentence of 8 years in prison for Alexander Máni Björnsson due to a knife attack on three victims at Bankastræti Club. The prosecution argues that there is sufficient evidence to claim that there was an attempted murder in this case, though none of the victims suffered fatal injuries.

The prosecution has cited the suspect’s use of excessive force, violation of probation, and lack of remorse for the long sentence, pointing out that some of the victims are still dealing with the consequences of the attack.

The case, which is one of the largest criminal cases in Icelandic history, features a total of 25 defendants. 10 are charged with serious bodily harm, and 14 are charged with complicity in the attack. Legal precedent for such charges shows a maximum of 20 months in prison for serious bodily harm.

Defendant Withdrew Confession

Earlier today, the defendant Alexander withdrew his confession in one of the stabbing cases at the nightclub.

His withdrawn confession pertains to the attack on one of the victims, where an artery was severed due to a stab wound in the thigh. Medical experts assessed that the attack had been life-threatening.

He now admits to fewer charges than before. The withdrawal happened just before the prosecution and defence were scheduled to begin their case presentation, and caused considerable confusion.

The presiding judge expressed serious concerns about this decision by the defendant and his attorney, stating that it showed disrespect for the court and disrespect for other legal professionals involved in the proceedings.  Additionally, the defence attorneys of the other individuals involved in the attack had built their defence on his admissions.

The judge has summoned the prosecutor and the defendant’s attorney for a meeting to discuss the matter.

Icelandic Police Investigating Possible Child Abduction on Ship

A 15-year-old girl was found on board the fishing ship Grímsnes GK-555 in the company of a 24-year-old man, RÚV reports. The ship’s captain maintains that the crew did not know of the girl’s presence on board and that the man responsible has been fired. Police are investigating the case as a potential child abduction.

Westman Islands police began a search for the girl last Saturday when her parents reached out to them. She was believed to have left the islands by ferry late on Saturday. The Grímsnes GK-555 left Heimaey harbour on the Westman Islands at 4:00 AM on Sunday morning.

Police contacted ship

The ship’s captain Sigvaldi Hólmgrímsson maintains that none of the crew knew that the girl was on board the ship. According to Sigvaldi, police contacted the ship due to a suspicion that the girl was on board. At that point, he asked the 24-year-old man, who confessed to having brought the girl onto the ship. According to RÚV, Sigvaldi is related to the man who brought the girl on board.

Suspected of child abduction

The 24-year-old man was arrested at the Njarðvík harbour on Sunday but was released after questioning. According to police, he is suspected of violating Article 193 of Iceland’s Penal Code, which addresses the abduction of minors. The article outlines that such violations are punishable by fine or up to 16 years in prison, or a life sentence.

The suspect was previously convicted to 12 months in prison for violent offences and threats against two former girlfriends. Sigvaldi stated that he knew of the man’s previous convictions but decided to give him a chance on the ship as he appeared to be working on reforming his behaviour. He was, however, fired after this incident.

Suspected of Killing Neighbour in Reykjavík

police station Hlemmur

A man in his early 20s is in police custody until July 1 under suspicion of having caused his neighbour’s death. The suspect and victim had no relation to each other beyond living in the same triplex in Barðavogur 22 in eastern Reykjavík. The victim is believed to have died from head injuries caused by a hammer and/or blunt weapon.

Last Saturday night, capital area police received a call about an unconscious man in Barðavogur street. The man was found lying outside his home with serious head injuries and efforts to resuscitate him were not successful. His neighbour was arrested immediately after on suspicion of manslaughter. The victim was born in 1975 while the suspect was born in 2001.

Police have stated that the investigation is going well. They are collecting evidence at the scene and identifying witnesses, as well as interrogating the suspect, who did not resist arrest and has not appealed his custody.

The suspect and the victim are believed to have begun an argument inside the victim’s home, where the suspect hit him on the head. The man is thought to have then escaped to the yard, where he is believed to have died from his injuries.

According to RÚV’s sources, the police were called to the same location last Friday, one day prior to the incident. The third neighbour in the triplex landed in an argument with the suspect and both accused each other of physical assault. Neither pressed charges, however, and police say that arresting the suspect at that time would have been beyond their authority.

Police Respond to Bomb Threats at Reykjavík School

Classes were cancelled at Reykjavík junior college Mentaskólinn við Hamrahlíð this morning after school administrators received a bomb threat by email. Police made an extensive search of the building and found no dangerous items. The school has been reopened and administrative staff will decide whether classes will resume in the afternoon.

Several Bomb Threats Made

Police have stated they believe they know who was behind the threat. According to a notice to press, the individual is based abroad and has issued similar threats in the past. Bomb threats were also made on other locations, and police have responded accordingly at three institutions besides the school.

Nine in Custody, Murder Investigation Ongoing

prison

Police are now working to map the movements of nine men that are in custody in connection to a murder committed in Reykjavík earlier this month. While the police have more than one murder suspect, Vísir reports that no one has pleaded guilty of the crime and the murder weapon has yet to be found. Police have remained tight-lipped about the extensive investigation, which has involved the National Police Commissioner’s Office and Europol.

On February 13, Albanian national and resident of Iceland Armando Beqirai was shot to death outside his home in East Reykjavík. Armando was in his 30s and leaves behind an Icelandic wife and young child, who were in the home when the incident occurred. Eight of the nine individuals in custody in relation to the crime are foreign citizens and one is Icelandic.

Read More: Seven in Custody Due to Reykjavík Murder

The men are all in isolation in Hólmsheiði prison, which has never housed as many prisoners in isolation in its nearly five years of operation.

Seven Now in Custody Due to Reykjavík Murder

Police officers in masks

Seven individuals are in custody in connection with a murder that took place in East Reykjavík last Saturday, Fréttablaðið reports. The first arrest took place last Sunday, with three more arrested outside Selfoss, South Iceland on Monday night. Four more were taken into custody yesterday, though one individual was released. One of the seven individuals currently in custody is allegedly an informant of the police’s drug unit.

Passers-by in downtown Reykjavík yesterday evening were taken aback by the rare sight of a convoy of police and special forces vehicles outside the Reykjavík District Court. As least three special forces vehicles and two police cars surrounded the courthouse as the four arrested that day were brought before the judge. Three of them were sentenced to a week in custody while one, reportedly a woman, was released.

Police Tight-Lipped on Extensive Case

Chief Superintendent Margeir Sveinsson is leading the police investigation into the murder. “This is a very large and extensive investigation that we have and that explains why it’s not possible to discuss specific events,” he stated. Margeir says the case is one of the largest of its kind in recent years, and confirmed that police are investigating whether the case is connected to a settlement in the criminal underworld.

Despite its magnitude, Margeir says the case does not pose a general threat to the public. “If we believe there is any danger posed to the public by such groups, then the police would always take appropriate action. We’re never going to let that happen without intervening. Then we would not be doing our job.” Police are now working to uncover the scope of each individual’s involvement in the case.

Europol Assists With Gathering Information

The murder victim’s name was Armando Beqirai and he was in his early 30s. He was an Albanian national and a resident of Iceland. He leaves behind his Icelandic wife and a young child. Most of the individuals in custody due to the murder are of foreign origin, though one is Icelandic. Some are residents of Iceland while others are not. The international division of the National Police Commissioner’s Office is assisting with the investigation, as is Europol. According to Margeir, the two parties are mainly assisting with gathering information.

Three More Arrests in Connection with Reykjavík Murder

missing woman

Three people were arrested in an extensive police operation in South Iceland in connection with a murder that took place in Reykjavík last Saturday. Police conducted searches in the capital area as well as the south region with the help of the National Police Commissioner’s Special Unit. A fourth man has been in custody since Sunday in connection to the crime.

Fréttablaðið reports that the Special Unit surrounded a house outside of Selfoss, South Iceland around midnight last night, where three individuals were arrested: one Icelandic and two foreign nationals.

The murder victim was shot to death outside his east Reykjavík home last Saturday night. He was an Albanian national and a resident of Iceland, who left behind a pregnant wife and a young child. Media sources have suggested the murder was connected to some sort of “settlement” in Iceland’s criminal underworld. Police have been tight-lipped about the case as the investigation is ongoing.

Man Shot to Death in Reykjavík

murder rauðagerði

A man in his 30s was shot to death in east Reykjavík on Saturday night. One man is in custody in relation to the incident. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Reykjavík Capital Area Police received notice of an injured man in east Reykjavík at 11.57pm on Saturday night. Response teams attempted to revive the man on the scene and later transported him to the National University Hospital. He was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

A notice from police stated that injuries caused by firearms were found on the man’s body. An investigation is ongoing and was stated to be a “top priority” for police.

Vísir reports that the victim was an Albanian national and resident of Iceland. He was married to an Icelandic woman and they were expecting their second child. The suspect in custody is a foreign national. The death is believed to be connected to some sort of “settlement” in the criminal underworld, according to Vísir.

Custody Extended for Suspect in Fatal Fire

fire Vesturgata Bræðraborgarstígur

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.

Read More: Fire Sparks Conversation About Working Conditions Facing Foreigners

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.”

Sues State for Additional Compensation in Infamous Case

Guðmundur og Geirfinnur case Supreme court

Kristján Viðar Júlíusson, one of five who was acquitted by the Supreme Court in Iceland’s most infamous disappearance case, has sued the Icelandic state for ISK 1.4 billion ($11.1m/€10.1m) in compensation, RÚV reports. Kristján Viðar was one of five individuals acquitted in 2018 after the so-called Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case was reopened. The lawsuit will be filed in Reykjavík District Court this Thursday.

Kristján considers he has the right to receive compensation because he was wrongfully convicted guilty for nearly 40 years, as well as serving a prison sentence of 7.5 years. Kristján is the second of the case’s plaintiffs to sue the state: Guðjón Skarphéðinsson has done so as well, demanding ISK 3 billion ($23.8m/€21.7m) in compensation. Of the five wrongfully sentenced, only Sævar Ciesielski spent more time in prison than Kristján Viðar.

The state awarded compensation to the three living defendants in the case at the end of last month, as well as to the spouses and children of the two deceased. Kristján has now sued the state demanding to be paid the difference between the amount he originally demanded and the amount he received.

When asked about Guðjón’s lawsuit, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated: “ Of course, it’s always difficult to put a price on such things and that will really never be done. These kinds of things will never be fixed with money. But of course we understand if people want to go to court and seek further justice.” Guðjón’s lawyer Ragnar Aðalsteinsson has argued that compensation for the plaintiffs should be higher. “High compensation has a range of effects. It is part of the pardon, but also acts as a restraint on police and judicial authorities in the future, to be more careful than they have been in this case, in the hope that something like this won’t repeat itself in the coming years and decades.”

The Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case is one of the most notorious cases in Icelandic criminal history. Read more about the case.