Suspected Murder in Akureyri

Akureyri

A man is being detained by police following the death of his wife in their rental apartment in an Akureyri building. The man is in his 60s and will be held for a week on suspicion of murder, Vísir reports.

Domestic violence suspected

The woman was around 50 years old and the couple had just moved into the apartment this winter along with their son in his 20s. Neighbours described having heard shouting from the apartment at times, but did not notice anything Sunday night or Monday morning when the woman passed away. Police arrived at the scene Monday morning after 4 AM.

Police are investigating whether the incident was a case of domestic violence that resulted in the woman’s death, sources said.

No official information

However, local police have not given any official information about the case, not even about the age of the people involved or their relationships. The investigation is at a sensitive stage, police said, and Reykjavík Metropolitan Police technical staff have been flown north to Akureyri to assist in the crime scene investigation.

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Icelander Wanted by Interpol in Cocaine Case

Pétur Jökull Jónasson, wanted by Interpol

Interpol has posted a wanted person notice for Icelander Pétur Jökull Jónasson. He is suspected of attempting to smuggle 99.25 kilos of cocaine from Brazil to Iceland. The Reykjavík Metropolitan Police asked Interpol to post the notice, RÚV reports.

Largest cocaine case in Iceland’s history

The case Pétur Jökull is suspected of being involved with was deemed Iceland’s largest ever cocaine case and tried in Icelandic courts last year. Four defendants were sentenced to six to ten years in prison. The cocaine was discovered in the Netherlands after a tip from Icelandic law enforcement and hidden in tree trunks en route from Brazil to Iceland. An attorney for one of the defendants claimed that they were only pawns in a large chain.

Grímur Grímsson, chief superintendent with the Metropolitan Police, confirmed that Pétur Jökull is suspected of involvement, but did not go into detail. No other people are suspected in the case.

A long track record

Pétur Jökull has been convicted three times by Icelandic courts. He was sentenced to pay a fine in 2007 for possession of illegal drugs. In 2010, he was sentenced to three years in prison for smuggling 1.6 kilos of cocaine from Spain to Iceland. A year later he received a five month sentence for robbery.

Pétur Jökull was also the keyboard player for the short-lived pop band Dr. Mister & Mr. Handsome.

Blackout and Snow Storm Cause Dozens of Car Crashes

Reykjavík from above, housing crisis Iceland

A power outage coincided with a snow storm in Reykjavík yesterday afternoon, leading to traffic chaos. A number of central neighbourhoods experienced blackouts due to a high-voltage breakdown, while at the same time, motorists braved the storm with little help from malfunctioning traffic lights.

“What happened is that it snowed a lot in a very short amount of time, the snow got compressed down and became very slippery,” Árni Friðleifsson of the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police told RÚV.

Around 30 traffic accidents had been reported to roadside assistance firm Arekstur when RÚV contacted them in the late afternoon. “We’ve dispatched all our cars and the traffic is completely halted,” said Arekstur CEO Kristján Kristjánsson.

Hospitals on back-up power

Due to the power outage, Landspítali hospitals in Fossvogur and at Hringbraut had to pull from back-up power. This was also the case for Reykjavík airport (RVK), which mostly services domestic flights. However, while both the airport itself and the air traffic control centre were operational, a blackout at the terminal delayed a flight to Akureyri for about an hour, as all luggage had to be manually checked in.

By evening, power had been restored. The rush hour traffic cleared up as traffic lights came back on and the storm cleared.

Icelandic Police Officers Order Stripper During Work Trip in Poland

police station Hlemmur

Three policewomen from Reykjavík Metropolitan Police ordered the services of a male stripper during a work trip in Poland, RÚV reports. They were there attending a course on hate crimes and extremism that included a visit to Auschwitz. Reykjavík’s Chief of Police Halla Bergþóra Björnsdóttir has refused to tell reporters whether the three women are still employed in the police service.

Took and shared pictures

According to RÚV’s sources, the incident occurred just after the course had finished. The policewomen were transferring hotels and had a male stripper in the car they were being transported in. The policewomen took pictures of the entertainment and sent them to their colleagues. Around 100 police officers from Iceland attended the course, some 15% of all Icelandic police, as well as a few lawyers.

Unknown whether officers face consequences

Reykjavík’s Chief of Police Halla Bergþóra Björnsdóttir stated that the conduct of the officers in question is being reviewed and is considered a serious incident. She refused to comment on whether the policewomen had been suspended or were still on the job, citing privacy regulations.

In an interview on Rás 1, lawyer and former MP Helga Vala Helgadóttir stressed the importance of investigating the incident thoroughly. “Who was this person who was bought? What is that person’s background? We know who works these jobs elsewhere in the world, often these are victims of human trafficking.”

Origin of Horse Head Used for Pagan Curse Still Unknown

Capital-area police are still trying to determine the origin of the severed horse head that was mounted on a stake on the land of a small capital-area community last week, RÚV reports. The grotesque totem, which derives from ancient pagan tradition, is called a nithing pole and is intended to curse the receiver.

See Also: ‘I take it as a threat’: Nithing Pole Erected at Local Commune 

DCI Stella Mjöll Aðalsteinsdóttir says that police have not received any reports of missing horses. Icelandic horses are microchipped, but this is no use to authorities in this instance, either: the head used on the nithing pole was severed above the neck, where its chip would have been located. Police are still awaiting the final report from the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST), but are conducting their own parallel investigation, which Stella Mjöll said she was unable to comment further on at time of writing.

Animal did not suffer

Police believe it unlikely that the head was taken from a slaughterhouse, as there are strict rules about the disposal of byproducts at such facilities. According to the information that MAST has been able to provide about the animal thus far, the horse was two years old and was killed with a single shot to the head. Sigríður Björnsdóttir, a veterinarian of equine diseases at MAST, noted that the head has not started to rot, which either means that the animal was shot shortly before the nithing pole was erected, or that the head was stored in a refrigerator beforehand.

Under Icelandic law, horse owners are permitted to slaughter their animals without a veterinarian present, as long as it is done correctly. Thankfully, this seems to have been the case with the horse in question. Hallgerður Hauksdóttir, chair of the Animal Welfare Association of Iceland, says the organization will not be investigating the incident themselves, as it does not appear that the animal suffered.

Nithing poles in recent years

As mentioned, nithing poles are used in pagan tradition to curse the receiver. It is only considered a true nithing pole if a horse head is used.

One of the most famous uses of a nithing pole occurs in ch. 60 of Egill’s saga, which was written around 1240 AD, but nithing poles—or symbolic variations thereof—have been erected in Iceland several times in much more recent memory.

The last instance of a real nithing pole being erected was in the Reykjavík suburb of Breiðholt in 2012. In that case, it remains unknown who the pole was intended to curse, or where the horse head was sourced.

In 2006, a farmer in Otradalur in the Westfjords attempted to curse a neighbor using a nithing pole topped with a calf’s head. The man was charged with making a threat on the neighbor’s life.

In 2018, an opponent of salmon farming erected a nithing pole topped with a cod’s head in Bíldudalur in West Iceland.

Sexual-Assault Victims Can Now Monitor Their Cases Online

Metropolitan Police

Yesterday, the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police introduced a new online gateway that will allow victims of sexual assault to access information regarding their cases, Vísir reports. Nearly four hundred such cases are being investigated by the police. There’s long been an appeal for improved service, says the Chief of Police.

A majority have complained of insufficient information

A new service gateway will afford victims of sexual assault who have pressed charges to the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police access to information relating to their cases. The gateway will also offer information regarding available resources and services. Halla Bergþóra Björnsdóttir, Chief of Police, compares the new online resource to Heilsuvera.is: a website that offers educational material relating to diseases, preventive measures, and preemptive strategies “toward a better and more healthful life.”

Speaking to Vísir.is, Halla Bergþóra explained that the new gateway will keep complainants updated on the status of cases, whether or not their cases are being investigated, and if they’ve been handed over to prosecutors. “There is also information regarding what you may expect, in terms of an outcome and how long the investigation is expected to take.”

“We’ve conducted numerous surveys among victims of sexual assault,” Halla Bergþóra continued. “75% of respondents are pleased with the service that the police provides, but at the same time, 88% have complained that they didn’t receive adequate information regarding the processing of their cases.”

The service gateway is an experimental project that in its initial iteration will only be available to victims of sexual assault in the Greater Reykjavík Area. According to Halla Bergþóra, the aim is to offer the same service in other jurisdictions and in other crime categories in the near future.

“If all goes well, we hope to provide a similar service to individuals who have pressed charges in other categories of the law, as well.”

With increased cases, increased processing time

As noted by Halla Bergþóra, the investigative phase of sexual assault cases are often time consuming; the processing time has lengthened as cases have increased and as the police authorities aim to improve the quality of investigations. The authorities are also short on staff. In light of this, Halla explained, it’s important to allow victims of sexual assault to monitor the status of their cases.

“There are 255 sexual assault cases currently being investigated. And then we have the prosecutorial department, and other departments, so I think there are about 370 cases in total.

The gateway can be accessed here.