Heavy Sentences Handed Down in Iceland’s Biggest Cocaine Bust

police station Hlemmur

The four defendants apprehended following Iceland’s biggest cocaine bust received heavy sentences this morning, Mbl.is reports. Only one of the defendants appeared in the courtroom for sentencing.

100 kg of cocaine hidden within a timber shipment

In August of last year, the police confiscated 100 kg of cocaine, which had been hidden inside seven logs included within a timber shipment to Iceland. The drugs were planted inside the logs in Brazil before being shipped to Iceland via the Netherlands.

As reported previously by Vísir, the Icelandic police got wind of the shipment in connection to an investigation into organised crime and subsequently notified police authorities in Rotterdam. The Rotterdam police replaced the cocaine with a fake substance before the container was shipped to Iceland. The estimated street value of the drugs is ISK 2 billion [$14 million/€13 million].

The container was shipped from customs to Borgartún in Reykjavík where it stood unmoved for two days. The container was then transported to Hafnarfjörður, where the cocaine was removed, packaged, and delivered to a third party for distribution and sale. The police subsequently seized the cocaine inside a vehicle on Vefarastræti in Mosfellsbær.

The four suspects in the case, none of which possess a criminal record of note, were subsequently charged with engaging in organised criminal activity, attempted large-scale narcotics offences, and money laundering. The case was filed before the Reykjavík District Court in November of last year.

Heavy sentences handed out

This morning, the District Court of Reykjavík handed out sentences to the four defendants. As noted by Mbl.is, Páll Jónsson received a ten-year prison sentence; Birgir Halldórsson received an eight-year prison sentence; Daði Björnsson received a six-year and six-month prison sentence; and Jóhannes Páll Durr, the only defendant to appear in the courtroom for sentencing, received a six-year prison sentence.

In addition to the prison sentences, the defendants must pay more than ISK 11 million [$81,000/€74,000] in legal fees each, and more than ISK 1 million [$7,000/€7,000] each in court costs (i.e. málskostnaður).

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.

Union Strike Ruled Legal, but Efling Must Hand Over Member Registry

Héraðsdómur Reykjavíkur Reykjavík District Court

Two rulings were delivered today in the drawn-out and tense collective agreement negotiations between Iceland’s second-largest union and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA). The District Court of Reykjavík ruled this afternoon that Efling Union must hand over the membership registry it has been withholding from the state mediator. Just over an hour later, the Labour Court ruled that a proposed hotel workers’ strike set to begin in Reykjavík tomorrow is, in fact, legal.

District Court rules in state mediator’s favour

In late January, the state mediator presented a mediation proposal in the wage dispute between Efling and SA, which met with criticism from both parties. The proposal was to be put to a vote by the members of Efling, but the vote proved impossible to carry out as Efling withheld its membership registry from the state mediator’s office. The District Court has now ruled that the union must hand over the registry. Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir called the ruling “wrong and unfair” and previously stated she would appeal the ruling if it was not in the union’s favour.

Labour Court rules in Efling’s favour

Meanwhile, some 300 Efling members working at seven Reykjavík hotels have voted to begin striking tomorrow. The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) had previously challenged the legality of the strike before the Labour Court, which ruled today in the union’s favour.

More Efling members are voting on additional strike actions: 500 hotel workers at the Berjaya Hotels chain and the Reykjavík Edition hotel, as well as some 70 delivery truck drivers are voting on whether to strike. Polls close tomorrow, and if members vote in favour, these additional strikes are set to begin on February 15. Strikes would be called off if an agreement were to be reached between Efling and SA before that date.

Ministry Dismisses Efling’s Complaint Against State Mediator

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir Efling

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour has dismissed Efling’s administrative complaint against the State Mediator’s mediating proposal, RÚV reports. The Ministry believes that the matter is “not an administrative decision that may be appealed to a higher authority.” In what is expected to be a big day, both the Labour Court and the District Court of Reykjavík will be hearing cases related to the ongoing dispute between Efling, the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise, and the state mediator today.

Lack of consultation, questions about competency

In an announcement on its website at the end of January, Efling stated that it had filed an administrative complaint against the state mediator’s mediating proposal to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour. The union demanded that the mediating proposal be repealed as there was a lack of consultation, validity, proportionality, and equality. Efling added that the state mediator was incompetent and could not be considered impartial in the dispute.

On the union’s website yesterday, Efling announced that it had further submitted a request for annulment to the Reykjavík District Court. The reason: a lack of reaction from Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour, to Efling’s administrative complaint.

This morning, however, the ministry announced that it had decided to dismiss Efling’s complaint. In the opinion of the Ministry, the mediating proposal, according to Article 27 of the Act on Trade Unions and Industrial Disputes, is part of the work of the state mediator and part of the procedure that aims to resolve a labor dispute between the parties. In contrast, paragraph 2 of Article 1 of administrative law states that the law applies when the government, including administrative committees, make decisions about “people’s rights or obligations.”

“Decisions on procedure and decisions that have a general legal effect are, therefore, not considered decisions on the rights or obligations of people in this regard,” the verdict reads.

A “big day” in the labour dispute

As noted by Vísir, today marks a “big day” in the dispute between Efling and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA), on the one hand, and in the dispute between Efling and the state mediator, on the other. Hearings will take place today in the Reykjavík District Court in the dispute between Efling and the state mediator (the mediator has requested Efling’s electoral roll in order to put the mediating proposal to a vote among Efling members).

The Labour Court will also begin hearings in the dispute between Efling and SA this afternoon; SA has requested that the court rule whether or not Efling union members are allowed to go through with their planned strikes on Tuesday – while the state mediator’s proposal remains on the table.

Court Rules City Not Liable for Rabbit Collision

The Reykjavík District Court has ruled that the City of Reykjavík does not have to compensate a local cyclist who was injured when running over a rabbit on a municipally maintained cycling path, RÚV reports.

The accident occurred in 2016, after a rabbit ran into the path of the man’s bicycle. He ran over the animal, fell off his bike, and careened into a tree. He then had to be hospitalized for ten days to recover from the injuries he sustained.

See Also: Rabbit Rescue Hops to Rehome Sixty Wild Bunnies

In his suit, the man claimed that the conditions of the cycling path were indefensible, and that the lighting at the scene of the accident was particularly bad. He also maintained that the city had been aware of an ongoing wild rabbit epidemic, as well as an increase in cycling accidents involving the wayward hoppers, but had failed to take any action about this until subsequent media coverage of the issue.

In its judgement on the case, the District Court agreed that the city would have been aware of the disturbances that rabbits could cause for cyclists on its paths. However, rabbits are wild mammals and therefore, protected by Icelandic law. “It’s clear that rabbits, like other animals including birds, cats, and rats, can find their way onto the city’s walking and cycling paths,” remarked the court, adding that it would be no easy thing for municipal authorities to prevent such encounters.

The court also found that better lighting and/or mirrors on the path would have been unlikely to prevent the accident and the city will not be obligated to pay damages to the cyclist.

Custody of Domestic Terror Suspects Extended Four Weeks

Terror plot

The two individuals suspected of planning a domestic terror attack will be held in custody for another four weeks. RÚV reports that the District Court of Reykjavík approved the District Attorney’s request for extended custody on Friday. The suspects’ lawyers have appealed the decision to the National Court.

The suspects have been held in isolation for three weeks, a decision that has been criticized by their lawyers. In his petition for extended custody, however, DA Ólafur Þór Hauksson did not request further isolation.

See Also: Judge Grants Extended Custody Over Domestic Terror Suspects

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.

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, all 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).

Chief Police Inspector Karl Steinar Valsson told reporters that this was the “first investigation of its kind to be launched in Iceland.

Judge Grants Extended Custody Over Domestic-Terror Suspects

Terror plot

Yesterday, the Reykjavík District Court granted the district attorney’s request to extend custody over two individuals suspected of planning a domestic-terror attack, both of whom have been kept in isolation since late September, RÚV reports. The suspects’ lawyers have appealed the decision to the National Court.

“The first investigation of its kind”

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.

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, all 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).

Chief Police Inspector Karl Steinar Valsson told reporters that this was the “first investigation of its kind to be launched in Iceland.”

Custody extended

Yesterday, District Attorney Ólafur Þór Hauksson confirmed to RÚV that the Reykjavík District Court had agreed to extend custody over the two suspects. The court’s rationale was primarily founded on the complicated nature of the investigation.

As previously noted, eight different units are working on the investigation. “We’re investigating the 3D printer, various electronic data, weapons, and tips from the public. We’ve also sent quite a bit of data to police authorities in the Nordic countries and to Europol so that they may assist in our processing of the evidence,” Grímur Grímsson, Chief of the Capital Area Police, told reports on September 29.

According to Ólafur Þór, the police have also yet to formally interrogate the two suspects. As soon as investigative interests no longer apply, however, there would be no need to keep the suspects isolated, Ólafur observed. The suspects’ lawyers have criticised their clients’ prolonged isolation. They appealed the decision to extend custody to the National Court yesterday.

As previously noted in Iceland Review, National Police Commissioner Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir has recused herself from the investigation, as the home of the Police Commissioner’s father, a well-known weapons collector, was searched during the investigation.