Four Arrested Following Manslaughter in Hafnarfjörður

Icelandic police

Four people, three of them under 18, are being detained by capital area police in connection to the death of a Hafnarfjörður man.

In a statement by law enforcement, they were tipped off around midnight to a confrontation between the suspects and victim in the parking lot of Fjarðarkaup in Hólshraun, a district in Hafnarfjörður.

Police arrived at the scene shortly after, where they found the victim. The victim was transported to the emergency room, where he was pronounced dead.

The other four parties were arrested in connection with the case.

Capital area authorities note that the investigation is still in its early stages, and no further details are available at this time.

Dismissed for Distributing Video of Stabbing

police station reykjavík

The individual responsible for distributing video footage of the recent knife attacks in a downtown Reykjavík nightclub has been relieved from their post, reports RÚV.

Ólafur Þór Hauksson, district prosecutor, confirmed this in a statement to RÚV, and stated that it is not believed the employee in question intended for the video to be distributed so widely. However, since its release one week ago, the video has been shared extensively across social media.

The video in question showed footage from the security cameras in the downtown Reykjavík club as a group of masked men entered the building and stabbed three individuals.

Read more: 24 People Connected to Knife Attack Released from Police Custody

At the time of the leak, there was concern that the leak of the video could potentially hurt the investigation of the case.

Now, Reykjavík police have concluded their investigation of the matter and consider the case closed.

After the leak, police officer Grímur Grímsson stated that “the video appears to have been recorded with a phone from the computer screen, and it appears to be a police workstation. I think we can say that this has never happened before, that information on an ongoing investigation has been leaked in this way.”

Read more: Heightened Police Presence Over Weekend

Presumably, the police were able to trace the workstation back to the relevant employee and conclude the investigation.

Several people are reported to have been questioned on the video and its distribution.

No further information on the responsible individual has been provided, except that they were an employee of the police force. As of Friday, their employment is reported to have been terminated.

 

Four Taxi Drivers Charged with Reckless Driving

Taxis at the airport

Four capital-area taxi drivers were charged with serious traffic violations on Saturday night, RÚV reports. Police conducted targeted surveillance of taxis after some particularly egregious driving was caught on traffic cameras downtown. These cameras caught multiple incidences of taxis driving on sidewalks, down pedestrian-only streets, stopped in the middle of intersections, and generally obstructing traffic.

Police gave verbal warnings to a number of taxi drivers on Saturday night and charged four with serious traffic violations. According to one pedestrian who spoke with police who were patrolling downtown, a taxi driver had driven behind them on a pedestrian-only street and yelled aggressively at them to get out of the way.

In a statement released about the incidents, police remind taxi drivers that they are subject to the same laws as other drivers. It is illegal to park or stop a vehicle on the sidewalk, they point out, to drive down pedestrian-only streets, or to obstruct traffic more generally. Specially designated parking is available for taxis in two places downtown, the statement continues, and if those are full, taxis must utilize regular nearby car parks.

Three Tourists Arrested, Fined for Breaking Quarantine

Police officers in masks

Three foreign tourists were arrested in a downtown Reykjavík restaurant on Saturday for violating quarantine protocols after their arrival in Iceland, Vísir reports. Each of them were fined ISK 250,000 [$1,797; €1,545] and they were sent home on Sunday.

Authorities immediately suspected that the trio did not intend to abide by quarantine regulations when they arrived in Iceland on Thursday, although they have declined to explain what raised their suspicions. As such, the travellers were specifically reminded of the regulations at the airport and, just to be sure, members of the contact tracing team visited the residence where they were staying in town that evening to remind them of the rules. Another visit was made to the tourists’ residence on Saturday night, but none of them were there. Instead, police found them in a restaurant around 10pm.

The trio were not the only visitors found to be breaking quarantine on Saturday. Earlier that evening, another foreign traveller was arrested after he tried to pick a fight on Laugarvegur in downtown Reykjavík. The man had just arrived in Iceland and was also supposed to be in quarantine. He was arrested and will likely be fined as well, although his case has not yet been settled.

In a Facebook post accompanied by a picture of three officers wearing masks and protective jumpsuits, capital-area police urged people to take quarantine regulations seriously. “Breaking quarantine is a grave matter. Such irresponsible behaviour can endanger the lives and safety of others!” read the post. “Respect quarantine—it’s a matter of life and death!”

Chief Superintendent Ásgeir Þór Ásgeirsson also explained how time-consuming it is for officers to go on call-outs related to quarantine violations. Two teams had to be reassigned from their normal duties and dress from head to toe in protective gear in order to find and collect just a few rule-breakers.

Ásgeir Þór waved off the idea that a language barrier could have played a part in the tourists’ misbehaviour, saying that authorities make certain that people understand the terms of quarantine and “how they need to behave” upon their arrival to the country. “Whatever they say—this was intentional.”

Suspect Charged in Fatal House Fire

fire Vesturgata Bræðraborgarstígur

Police have charged the man who has been held in connection with a house fire this June that left three people dead and two in critical condition, mbl.is reports. The suspect, who is in his sixties, has been in custody since the day of the fire.

Friday marked twelve weeks that the man has been in custody—the maximum amount of time a person can be held without being charged. It has been confirmed that the man will remain in custody for another four weeks. The suspect was charged with manslaughter under Article 211 of the general penal code and arson under Article 164. Per the terms of Article 211, punishment for manslaughter calls for anywhere from five years’ imprisonment (the minimum allowable sentence) to life. Article 164 dictates that the punishment for arson be no less than six months’ imprisonment.

See Also: Fire Sparks Conversation About Working Conditions Facing Foreigners

The house that burned down was located at Bræðraborgarstígur 1 in the westside neighbourhood of Vesturbær and was 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 and was covered two years later by the TV programme Kveikur, which did an investigation of illegal residence in the house.

All three people who died in the fire were Polish citizens. The families of the victims have begun legal proceedings of their own and will be suing both the man in custody as well as the owner of the house.

Unidentified Body Found in Eastern Suburb

fatal accident Iceland

The body of an unidentified man was found in a forested area in the eastern suburb of Breiðholt, RÚV reports. Police are working to determine the man’s identity, and believe they will be able to do so within a few days.

The body was found by a man who was walking in the area around noon on Friday. Thus far, police have confirmed that the deceased was an adult man and say that no missing persons report had been filed on his behalf. No further information has been released about his age, nationality, or appearance. It’s thought that the man had been dead for some time when he was found, although it has not yet been determined if this had been a matter of weeks, months, or even years.

The death is not considered suspicious; police have no indications of foul play.

Fewer Sexual Assaults Reported Since Gathering Restrictions Went Into Effect

Fewer sexual assaults have been reported to police this year than were during the same time period in 2019, RÚV reports. Head of the capital area police department’s sexual assault unit Ævar Pálmi Pálmason believes it’s likely that this drop is related to current gathering restrictions and their impact on the local bar and club scene.

So far this year, there have been 80 reported cases of sexual assault in and around Reykjavík, as compared to an average of 170 reported for the same time period in the previous three years.

Reports of sexual assaults started going down in March, when gathering restrictions first went into effect in Iceland. “One has to consider that there is a connection there,” said Ævar Pálmi. “Reported offences went down in February, March, and April, such that we have to consider whether these measures and the consequences of this pandemic have caused this.” (Ævar Pálmi has not inconsiderable knowledge of the workings of transmission prevention efforts and their consequences; before heading up the sexual assault unit, he lead the police department’s contact tracing division.)

Since the gathering restrictions went into effect, ten to twenty sexual offences have been reported per month. There were ten reports made this July, as compared to 26 in July 2019.

Although it’s difficult to state with certainty that the limited opening hours of bars and clubs is directly related to this drop in reported assaults, Ævar Pálmi thinks it’s likely that there is a correlation.

It’s worth noting, however, that while reported sexual assaults have gone down during the time of COVID-19, reports of domestic violence have gone up 15%, or 70 more reported offences than there were during the same time period last year.

With Bars Closing Early, Police Receiving More Noise Complaints

rainy windshield

Capital-area police have received nearly three times the number of noise complaints this summer as they did three years ago, Vísir reports. Chief Superintendent Ásgeir Þór Ásgeirsson credits the jump to an increase in house parties now that downtown bars are required to close at 11 pm, as opposed to their pre-COVID last call of 4 am.

“If bars and clubs are closed, it’s to be expected that people will do more at home and there will be more parties and things like that,” said Ásgeir Þór.

According to statistics provided by police, in 2017, there were a total of 1,363 noise complaints. In 2018, there were 1,635 noise call outs; there were 1,612 in 2019. By comparison, in just the first seven months of this year, police have already received almost the exact same number as they did for the whole of 2017: 1,349.

Most of the call outs are for noise inside residences (versus for people gathered outdoors). Just considering the summer months, there has been a steady increase in noise complaints over the years. There were 300 noise complaints from May to July 2017, 480 in 2018, and 523 in 2019. Looking at a slightly truncated period this year—May to June—there were 825 complaints, 288 for outdoor noise and 537 for noise indoors.

Ásgeir Þór urged people to be as understanding as possible. “These call-outs to homes…even if someone sleeps an hour less, it generally won’t cause them lasting harm,” he noted. “So the police are just fine with this trade-off, if there are fewer assaults but more call-outs for noise in residences, so long as there’s nothing else to it.”

Sigríður Björk Named National Police Commissioner

Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir has named Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir the National Police Commissioner of Iceland, effective March 16, Kjarninn reports. Sigríður has been Chief of Police in the capital area since 2014 and is the first woman to serve in that office.

The Office of the National Commissioner of Police began operations in 1997. Haraldur Johannessen held the office of National Police Commissioner for 22 years, until stepping down last year after rising tensions in the police force led to eight out of nine police commissioners in the country declared a vote of no confidence in Haraldur’s leadership. Kjartan Þorkelsson, Chief of Police of South Iceland, temporarily replaced Haraldur while the Minister of Justice began seeking applications for a permanent replacement in the position.

Prior to assuming the position of police chief in the capital, Sigríður was chief of the Suðurnes Police in South Iceland and acted as assistant police commissioner from 2007 to 2008. She’s also worked in other regions of the country: she was sheriff of Ísafjörður from 2002 to 2006 and chief tax inspector in the Westfjords from 1996 to 2002.

Teenagers Caught Vaping Synthetic Cannabinoid Spice

e-cigarette

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1574244816241{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]A group of teenagers in Reykjavík were caught vaping the synthetic cannabinoid Spice (a range of laboratory-made chemicals that mimic the effects of THC, the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis).

According to a statement released yesterday by the police in Reykjavík, the teenagers were stopped on account of questionable behaviour. The police subsequently confiscated the teenagers’ e-cigarettes and sent e-liquids to the University of Iceland Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology for analysis. The analysis revealed that the e-liquid contained the drug Spice, as well as nicotine. The Government Agency for Child Protection is currently collaborating with police authorities on the case.

As noted by police authorities, the find is a cause for worry:

“The police in the Greater Reykjavík Area would like to raise awareness and to encourage parents and legal guardians to be on their guard. Among the short-term effects of Spice – which is almost odourless – are feelings of joy and euphoria; however, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety attacks, and aggression are among the drug’s more serious side effects.“

This summer, nine teenagers in the Greater Manchester area collapsed from unwittingly vaping an e-liquid containing Spice. In an interview with Sky News, drug expert Michael Linnell stated that the risk of vaping spice was far more dangerous than from a natural cannabis product.

“It is difficult for even experienced spice users to judge dosage and unintentionally administering a toxic dose is common … severe poisoning is far more common with synthetic cannabinoids than with cannabis, and in some cases, the poisoning may even be fatal.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][mk_image][/vc_column][/vc_row]