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.


Compensation Awarded in Guðmundur and Geirfinnur Case

Guðmundur and Geirfinur

The state treasury dispensed ISK 774 million ($6,273,847 / €5,687,243) on Wednesday in compensation to parties acquitted before the supreme court in 2018 in a retrial of the Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case, Fréttablaðið reports. The treasury also compensated the spouses and children of two deceased defendants.

A Total of ISK 815 million paid

According to PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the Office of the Prime Minister concluded, upon reviewing the case, that it would not suggest amendments to the damages recommended by the conciliation committee, except regarding compensation awarded to relatives of Sævar Marinó Ciesielski: it was raised by ISK 15 million ($121,547 / €110,214)

The state treasury also paid legal costs amounting to 5% of the total compensation. The total cost paid amounted to ISK 815 million ($6,602,437 / €5,987,816).

Albert Klahn Skaftason received ISK 15 million ($121,547 / €110,214), Guðjón Skarphéðinsson received ISK 145 million ($1,175,048 / €1,065,263), Kristján Viðar Júlíusson received ISK 204 million ($1,653,170 / €1,499,029), relatives of Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson received ISK 171 million ($1,385,746 / €1,256,539) and relatives of Sævar Marinó Ciesielski received ISK 239 million ($1,936,959 / €1,756,114).

In brief

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

The case revolved around the disappearance of two men, Guðmundur and Geirfinnur, in 1974. Six people were ultimately convicted of the murders of these two men based on confessions extracted by members of the police force. These confessions are believed to be faulty due to extreme length and intensity of the interrogations. Furthermore, police never recovered the bodies of the missing men, were not able to confirm the location of the crime scene, and had no actual witnesses or forensic evidence.

In September 2018 (in a retrial of the case), Guðjón Skarphéðinsson, Sævar Ciesielski, Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson, Kristján Viðar Júlíusson, and Albert Klahn Skaftason were acquitted of the murders of Guðmundur Einarsson and Geirfinnur Einarsson in 1974, for which they were sentenced in 1980. Sævar Ciesielski died in 2011. Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson died in 2009.