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.

 

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.

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.

State Opposes Compensation Claim in Guðmundur and Geirfinnur Case

The state has requested an acquittal for the compensation claim of Guðjón Skarphéðinsson, RÚV reports. Guðjón was acquitted in the infamous Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case, last year. Guðojón requested ISK 1.3b (€9.4m, $10.4m) as compensation related to the case, which is considered one of the gravest miscarriages of justice in Iceland’s history.

The state believes that the laws which were in place when the case took place are in effect for Guðjón’s case, Vísir reports.. Previously, authorities had indicated a willingness to settle for damages. Guðjón was the first of the acquitted five to claim compensation. The compensation started in June this year, following the acquittal in September 2018. After the settlement discussion failed, Guðjón took the state to court for compensation.

The state lawyer also believes that Guðjón himself played a part in his wrongful ruling, RÚV reports.

“It’s a surprise that the state took this stance in this matter, as it has already admitted grave misconduct by imprisoning these people for years. It’s a surprise that the state takes no responsibility and intends to tread on their rights,” Guðjón’s lawyer Ragnar Aðalsteinsson said. “This means that the state intends to fight tooth and claw in the law court against all compensation claims,” Ragnar claimed.

Acquittal in Guðmundur and Geirfinnur Case

The Supreme Court of Iceland acquitted Sævar Cieselski, Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson, Kristján Viðar Júlíusson, Guðjón Skarphéðinsson, and Albert Klahn Skaftason, Vísir reports. The individuals were charged for the murders of Guðmundur Einarsson and Geirfinnur Einarsson in 1974, for which the fivesome received sentences in 1980.
Background

Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case

The case revolves 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, there was a complete lack of bodies, a known crime scene, witnesses or forensic evidence. Murders are few and far between in Iceland and even more so in the 70s. There was tremendous pressure on police authorities to identify and sentence the culprits. It is believed that this pressure led to the extreme methods performed in order to extract confessions.

The six individuals eventually charged with the murders were Sævar Ciesielski, Kristján Viðar Júlíusson, Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson, Albert Klahn Skaftason, Guðjón Skarphéðinsson, and Erla Bolladóttir. Among the methods used by police to gain confessions were lengthy stays in isolation, water torture, sleep deprivation, drugs, and a lack of contact with lawyers. Sævar Cieselski had to endure the longest stay in custody, a total of 1533 days, 615 of those in solitary confinement. He received the heaviest sentence, a maximum prison stay of 17 years. Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson was kept in solitary confinement for 655 days in total. Tryggvi’s stay is believed to be one of the longest stays in solitary confinement outside of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

German Police “Must Take Responsibility” in Infamous Icelandic Case

Andrej Hunko

“The Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany [BKA] must shoulder its responsibility in the biggest legal scandal of Icelandic history,” according to German Member of Parliament Andrej Hunko. Vísir reports that Hunko, alongside other members of Germany’s Left Party, questioned the German government recently on Germany’s involvement in the Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case.

German Police Officer Karl Schütz was flown in to assist with the investigation of the case, which involved the disappearance of two men, Guðmundur and Geirfinnur, in 1974. Six people were ultimately convicted for the murders of these two men based on confessions extracted by members of the police force, with Schütz’ assistance. The case was reopened last year, with prison logs providing new evidence. The confessions have since been recognised as invalid, due to the use of extreme interrogation methods. Five of the convictions were overturned late last year.

German interrogation led to false confessions

“The German government has now confirmed the extensive assistance of the BKA through both its then-President and then-Secretary of the Interior Ministry Siegfried Fröhlich,” Hunko stated in reference to the German government’s response to the Left Party’s question this week. Hunko says it’s high time for the German government to offer Icelandic authorities all possible assistance in fully informing them about Germany’s participation in the case, though the response from the German government states that no request for such assistance has been received from Icelandic authorities.

“In the opinion of Gísli Guðjónsson, legal counsel, it was the interrogation methods of BKA which led to the false confessions which were made in the case,” Hunko stated, mentioning the extended solitary confinement, water torture, drugging, and hypnotism used on the suspects. “The German state needs to compensate the case victims for the methods that were used and yielded false confessions.”

Schütz a free agent

The government’s response to Hunko’s question stated that Pétur Eggertz, then-Icelandic ambassador to Germany, reportedly requested assistance in the Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case from Siegfried Fröhlich. While Fröhlich reportedly did not consider involving the BKA in the matter, he agreed to contact newly-retired officer Karl Schütz, who decided to take on the case. The government stated that as Schütz was retired, he provided aid in his own name and not on behalf of the BKA or German authorities.

Compensation Should Be Higher for Guðmundur and Geirfinnur Plaintiffs

Ragnar Aðalsteinsson, defense lawyer for Guðjón Skarphéðinsson, one of the defendants in the Guðmundur and Geirfinnur retrial, says that the compensation being offered to his client is too low in comparison with that which has been offered in similar cases.

Guðjón was one of five defendants in a retrial of one of the most notorious criminal cases in Icelandic history. In September, Guðjón and Sævar Cieselski, 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.

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 hever 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. Murders are few and far between in Iceland and this was particularly true in the 70s. There was tremendous pressure on police authorities to identify and sentence the culprits. It is believed that this pressure led to the extreme methods performed in order to extract confessions. Sævar Ciesielski, who had fought for years to have the case reopened and retried, died in 2011. (Read more about the case here and here.)

Following the acquittal, the Prime Minister issued a formal apology to the five wrongfully convicted defendants and appointed a working group to lead negotiations regarding compensation for the defendants and their families. Seven months have passed since then, but no formal compensation offer has yet been made.

Defense lawyer Ragnar Aðalsteinsson says that the government has informally proposed a ceiling of ISK 600 million [$62.3 million; €55.5] in compensation. In 1983, four suspects who were imprisoned for 105 days in connection with the murders were paid ISK 56 million [$459,921; €409,345] for every day they were wrongfully held in custody in compensation. This is equivalent to ISK 535 million [$4.39 million; €3.91 million] today. The current offer, says Ragnar, is roughly a tenth of that offer “…based on the same charges, in the same prison, at the same time.” Moreover, he says, the current compensation offer does not account for his client’s loss of employment and income at the time.

The defendants were held for up to two years in solitary confinement in addition to the prison terms they were sentenced to. Ragnar says that they should be compensated for at least ISK 390 million [$3.2 million; €2.85] for the two years they spent in solitary confinement.

Ragnar says that the significance of awarding substantial damages goes beyond simply compensating the defendants for their monetary losses at the time of their imprisonment. “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.”

Guðmundur and Geirfinnur Cold Case Re-Opened?

The police in the Reykjavík metropolitan area are now assessing whether to re-open the investigation into the disappearance of Guðmundur Einarsson and Geirfinnur Einarsson, Vísir reports. The pair disappeared nearly half a century ago but a number of new clues have come to light in recent years. These new clues might make it feasible to re-open the investigation. Guðmundur and Geirfinnur were never found, but six people were convicted of their alleged murders based on confessions extracted by police by intense and lengthy interrogations which included torture and solitary confinement. The sentences were passed despite a lack of of bodies, witnesses, or any forensic evidence. Five of the six originally sentenced were acquitted on the 27th of September, 2018, 44 years after Guðmundur’s and Geirfinnur’s disappearance.

“We are assessing our options and looking into how we might go about it. It’s now explicit that the case isn’t fully solved”, Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir, head of police of the Reykjavík metropolitan police, stated. Sigríður says that the police have to assess the new data that has come forward in the case, and if they give a reason for a special investigation. It is the norm to only open closed cases when new data has been presented.

Sigríður stated the police was not involved in the recently completed re-trial of the case of five of the six who were sentenced for Guðmundur’s and Geirfinnur’s appearance. Read more about the re-trial, and the following aquittal, here.

Read more about the Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case here.

New leads on Geirfinnur

A man presented himself to the police at the end of 2016 and stated that he saw three men dressed in civilian clothing arriving on a small boat to Vestmannaeyjar on the 20th of November, 1974. This was the day after Geirfinnur Einarsson disappeared in Keflavík. Two of the men led the third between them appeared weak, and almost without consciousness. They arrived into the fish processing plant which the eyewitness was situated and stayed there for some time with the company chef’s permission.

The weak man in the middle was to have said “Remember me” when they got ready to return to the boat. The eyewitness then saw them head to the boat and out to sea. A while later they returned to shore but only two people left the boat. The witness did not see the two men again until two decades later, when he saw one of them in East Iceland working on electricity lines for Landsvirkjun.

A report was also taken of the eyewitness’ ex-girlfriend who was with him in Vestmannaeyjar. She did not see the three men, but she received a phone call two days later where she and the witnessed were threatened with execution. They feared the threat and therefore said nothing until now.

New leads on Guðmundur

Stefán Almarsson, who is believed to have lied to the police that Kristján Viðar Leifsson and Sævar Cieselski played a part in Guðmundur’s disappearance, was interrogated by police in 2015. The interrogation took place due to testimony by Stefán’s ex-girlfriend, where she stated that she was a passenger in a car controlled by Stefán which struck Guðmundur Einarsson on the night before 27th of January 1974. According to her testimony, Guðmundur was taken into the car before she was driven home. Guðmundur was getting visibly worse for wear when she left the car.

Þórður Eyþórsson was also interrogated, as the woman stated he was among the passengers in the car. Both Stefán and Þórður steadfastly deny playing any part in Guðmundur’s disappearance.

A report of Stefán, from 1977, exists about his goings on the night before 27th of January 1974. There he states he was partying with his friend in Reykjavík. In the interrogation, this friend neither confirmed nor denied being with Stefán that night, but admitted that he knew Guðmundur from his primary school years. That man is the older brother of Þórður Eyþórsson and is said to have been a greater friend of Stefán than Þórður, who was 16 years old when Guðmundur’s disappearance took place.

In the spotlight

The case is well known outside Iceland. ‘Out of Thin Air’, a documentary covering the events of the Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case was released by Netflix in 2017. Directed by Dylan Howitt, the film covers the events of the murders and was inspired by the BBC programme ‘The Reykjavík Confessions’, which was released in 2014.

Acquittal in Guðmundur and Geirfinnur Case

The family members of the fivesome witnessed the acquittal today in an emotionally charged courtroom. Sævar Cieselski’s daughter couldn’t help but shed a tear at the retrial

Acquittal in Guðmundur and Geirfinnur Case

The Supreme Court of Iceland acquitted Sævar Cieselski, Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson, Kristján Viðar Júlíusson, Guðjón Skarphéðinsson, and Albert Klahn Skaftason, Vísir reports. The individuals were charged for the murders of Guðmundur Einarsson and Geirfinnur Einarsson in 1974, for which the fivesome received sentences in 1980.

Erla Bolladóttir was the only one of the six charged for the murders not to get a retrial. Here she sits at the front row of today’s hearing, with the family of Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson conversing with a judge in the background.

The lawyers of the defendants have made stark remarks about the hardship the defendants had to endure in the case. A full acquittal is requested for all of the individuals that were granted a retrial in the case, other than Guðjón Skarphéðinsson whose defendant requested that his client be declared innocent. Davíð Þór Björgvinsson, the district attorney in the case, has also requested a full acquittal of the individuals found guilty in the case.

Background

The case revolves 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, there was a complete lack of bodies, a known crime scene, witnesses or forensic evidence. Murders are few and far between in Iceland and even more so in the 70s. There was tremendous pressure on police authorities to identify and sentence the culprits. It is believed that this pressure led to the extreme methods performed in order to extract confessions.

The six individuals eventually charged with the murders were Sævar Ciesielski, Kristján Viðar Júlíusson, Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson, Albert Klahn Skaftason, Guðjón Skarphéðinsson, and Erla Bolladóttir. Among the methods used by police to gain confessions were lengthy stays in isolation, water torture, sleep deprivation, drugs, and a lack of contact with lawyers. Sævar Cieselski had to endure the longest stay in custody, a total of 1533 days, 615 of those in solitary confinement. He received the heaviest sentence, a maximum prison stay of 17 years. Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson was kept in solitary confinement for 655 days in total. Tryggvi’s stay is believed to be one of the longest stays in solitary confinement outside of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

The six individuals charged for the murders. From top left to bottom right: Sævar Cieselski, Erla Bolladóttir, Albert Klahn Skaftason, Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson, Kristján Viðar Júlíusson, Guðjón Skarphéðinsson.

Cases reopened

The committee of reopening cases agreed to have a retrial for the cases of five individuals sentenced for their role in the Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case last February. The request to reopen the case on behalf of Erla Bolladóttir was rejected. A special committee was founded to handle the reopening of the case, and the committee believes that the foundation for the confessions is inadequate. The committee questions both the reliability of the confessions acquired as well as the forensic evidence surrounding the case. The time that it took to receive the confessions, along with the methods used to extract them are among the reasons listed for why the confessions are believed to be dubious at best. The bodies of Guðmundur and Geirfinnur were never found.

“I’ve worked on miscarriages of justice in many different countries. I’ve testified in several countries – hundreds of cases I’ve done, big cases. I’d never come across any case where there had been such intense interrogation, so many interrogations, and such lengthy solitary confinement. I was absolutely shocked when I saw that”, Gísli H. Guðjónsson, professor of Forensic Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry of King’s College London.

Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson received an acquittal today for his part in the case. His grandson and namesake, Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson, along with Tryggvi’s daughter, take in the sentence.

In the spotlight

The case is well known outside Iceland. ‘Out of Thin Air’, a documentary covering the events of the Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case was released by Netflix in 2017. Directed by Dylan Howitt, the film covers the events of the murders and was inspired by the BBC programme ‘The Reykjavík Confessions’, which was released in 2014.

Prison Logs Provide Vital Evidence in Guðmundur and Geirfinnur Retrial

Lawyers for three of the five defendants in the Guðmundur and Geirfinnur retrial made their cases to the Supreme Court on the second day of testimony, RÚV reports. Defense attorneys spoke on behalf of Kristján Viðar Viðarsson, Guðjón Skarphéðinsson, and Sævar Marínó Ciesielski. While presenting their defenses, the men’s attorneys referred to important new evidence—the prison log books from the time of their clients’ interrogation—which provided a clear picture of the abuses the defendants had to endure while in solitary confinement.

The infamous and highly contested case—called by one defense lawyer a “judicial scandal”— has long been attended by accusations of mismanagement, rampant abuse, and fabricated confessions. (For a detailed explanation of the case and its legacy, see the BBC investigatory article The Reykjavik Confessions.)

The case revolves around the disappearance of Guðmundur Einarsson in January 1974, followed by that of Geirfinnur Einarsson (no relation) in November of the same year. Police never recovered the bodies of either man and rumors and conspiracy theories long circulated as to what had happened to them. The defendant Sævar Ciesielski, who was known to police at the time and had been picked up along with his girlfriend (and mother of his eleven-month-old daughter) Erla Bolladóttir, for a petty crime in December 1975, was eventually implicated in the suspected murders of both of the disappeared men.

Sævar, Erla, and four of Sævar’s friends were also eventually charged with the murders: Guðjón Skarphéðinsson, Kristján Viðar Viðarsson Júlíusson, Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson and Albert Klahn Skaptason. All of them received prison sentences of varying lengths, up to 17 years, and their convictions were largely based on confessions that were extracted from them during lengthy interrogations and after spending extremely long periods of time in solitary confinement and enduring serious abuse, even torture. During its remarks on Thursday, the defense also pointed out that confessions were not obtained from their clients until after a year spent in custody.

Prosecutor Davíð Þór Björgvinsson said that the defendants’ confessions had been the only real evidence in both investigations and that the convictions would not have been made without those confessions. One of the primary reasons that the case was allowed to be retried, however, was that the Ministry of Justice’s Rehearing Committee had determined that evidence had not been gathered according to proper procedure.

One of the defense’s primary points of contention is the length of time that their clients were held in isolation. Today, it’s thought that 15 days in solitary confinement can cause lasting harm to a person. Some of the defendants, however, were held for as much as two years in isolation. Erla, for instance, was isolated and kept away from her baby daughter for 105 days, during which she was interviewed 100 times—only three times in the presence of a lawyer. Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson was kept in solitary confinement for a mind-boggling 655 days, during which time he “kept detailed diaries, to cling on to reality, to remind himself he was innocent.” These journals were smuggled out of the prison by a sympathetic priest. Three of them survived to the present day—hidden for safe-keeping by Tryggvi’s daughter—and, in addition to Guðjón’s journals, make up some of the evidence that allowed defense attorneys to secure a retrial.

In addition to these journals, the prison’s log books also provide vital insight into how authorities managed interrogations at the time of investigation. These were not referred to during the first trial and detail who came to the prison where the defendants were being held, when, and who they met with. There are, however, no transcripts showing what was said during these interrogations.

On Thursday, the defense also spoke on the harshness of their clients treatment in prison. Sævar, who police decided was the ringleader, was subjected to the worst of it. According to the prison log, on one occasion, all of the things in his cell were removed. The light switch in his cell was disconnected so that he could never turn off the light. He was also prevented from sleeping by police guards. He and the four other men were also routinely drugged while in custody.

The defense contended that both the criminal court and the Supreme Court committed offenses by ignoring evidence of the defendants’ innocence and ordering police not to pursue these lines of inquiry. The case represents a miscarriage of justice, said Guðjón’s lawyer Ragnar Aðalsteinsson, and it’s important that the court admit to its mistakes. Defense lawyers also pointed out that the case would not even be under review with the Rehearing Committee now except for the fact that Sævar Ciesielski, who died in 2011, fought for years to have it retried.

Following the day’s proceedings, Sævar and Erla Bolladóttir’s daughter Júlía said that in her opinion, an acquittal alone would not be sufficient. “I think getting this declaration of innocence would be the bare minimum because there were clearly very big mistakes made, significant violations, and it calls for something more than just an acquittal. But this is obviously in the hands of the Supreme Court and there’s nothing to do but wait for their ruling.”

Guðmundur and Geirfinnur Retrial Begins

The retrial of six individuals sentenced in the infamous Guðmundur and Geirfinnur case decades ago began today, RÚV reports. In February of this year, the state prosecutor requested a full acquittal of the individuals sentenced in the infamous case, and the trial began today.

Davíð Þór Björgvinsson, the case prosecutor, is building his plea on the verdict of a committee which ruled to reopen the case last year. Davíð Þór argues that new evidence, including the diaries of Tryggvi Rúnars Leifsson and Kristján Viðar Víðarsson, two of the six people convicted in the case, call for a full acquittal of the six individuals. He also adds that the harsh treatment of the accused during the handling of the case was not considered in the original ruling.

The case revolves around the disappearance of two men, Guðmundur Einarsson and Geirfinnur Einarsson (no relation), in 1974. Six people were ultimately convicted of the murders of these two men and received prison sentences of various lengths, up to 17 years. The convictions were based on confessions extracted from the individuals during lengthy interrogations. Their validity as evidence has since been refuted, as records show the accused were held in extended solitary confinement, drugged, and in some cases tortured.

The case is well known outside of Iceland. In 2014, it was the subject of a BBC programme called The Reykjavík Confessions, while in 2017 a documentary on the topic was released on Netflix, titled Out of Thin Air.