Court of Appeals Reverses Dismissal in Domestic Terror Case

Judge's gavel

The Court of Appeals (i.e. Landsréttur) has invalidated the decision of the Reykjavik District Court to dismiss the indictment in the so-called domestic terror case. The defence attorney for one of the two defendants told Vísir on Monday that his client, who was innocent, was not fearful of court proceedings.

64-count indictment presented in June

Last year, four Icelandic men were arrested suspected of terrorist plots against state institutions and civilians. Two of the suspects were immediately released, while the other two were kept in custody for an extended period.

Although the initial case was dismissed in February of this year, a new 64-count indictment was presented in June, 2023. That indictment was also dismissed in early October on the grounds that the case’s limitations – namely that no specific time nor place for the intended terrorist acts had been laid out by the prosecution – hindered the defence in presenting its arguments. The District Prosecutor appealed the decision.

Supreme Court hearing anticipated

The Court of Appeals has now invalidated the decision of the Reykjavik District Court to dismiss the indictment, which means that the case will be reconsidered in the district court where the indictment stands.

In an interview with Vísir on Monday, Sveinn Andri Sveinsson – defence attorney for one of the two defendants in the case – stated that he disagreed with the Court of Appeals’ decision; the district court’s conclusion was well-founded.

“But the Court of Appeals has the final say. If one wants to find something positive in this, it will be better, in the long run, to have a clear and definite acquittal rather than the case ending ambiguously, which was where it seemed to be heading,” Sveinn observed. Sveinn Andri also told that his defendant was not fearful of the possibility of a trial: “My client is not fearful of the court proceedings because he is innocent.”

When asked about the case’s lengthy legal process, Sveinn compared it to an American comedy: “It’s like the script for Groundhog Day 2,” he stated, adding that he suspected that the case would eventually wind up in the Supreme Court. “One way or another.”

District Prosecutor Appeals Dismissal of Domestic Terror Case

Héraðsdómur Reykjavíkur Reykjavík District Court

The District Prosecutor has appealed the Reykjavik District Court’s dismissal of the so-called domestic terrorism case to the National Court, Vísir reports. The defence attorney for one of the defendants has expressed his concerns about the impact of the case on his client.

Prosecution silent as National Court deliberates

The District Prosecutor has appealed the Reykjavik District Court’s dismissal of the so-called domestic terrorism case to the National Court (i.e. Landsréttur). The charge, holding that two men in their twenties were planning on carrying out a domestic terrorism attack in Iceland, has been dismissed twice due to limitations. This was confirmed by prosecutor Karl Ingi Vilbergsson, who represents the prosecution, in an interview with Vísir.

According to Karl Ingi, the National Court will now take time to review the case and decide whether to refer the charge back to the district court for substantive processing. He added that the office would not reveal what the next steps would be, should the National Court decide to uphold the dismissal. “We will just have to see what happens,” he observed.

Limitations complicating the work of the defence

The Reykjavík District Court dismissed the case last Monday, October 2, as it believed the case’s limitations hindered the defence in presenting its arguments. Sveinn Andri Sveinsson, defence attorney of Sindri Snær Birgisson, who faces charges in the case along with Ísidór Nathansson, previously told Vísir that he believed it was likely that the prosecution would appeal the dismissal.

Sveinn Andri expressed his concerns regarding the prosecution’s case. “The lives of these young men have been ruined. This case should never have taken this turn if the police had handled it properly, monitored them, and investigated the matter thoroughly and appropriately. It would never have led to prosecution.”

Vísir notes that prosecutors have charged Sindri with planning terrorist acts, while accusing Ísidór of complicity in Sindri’s crimes, alleging he provided assistance and encouragement.

The district court’s dismissal ruling stated clearly that a specific time and place for the intended terrorist acts had not been determined. Similarly, the court ruled that it was unclear whether these intended crimes were to be executed in the near or distant future, while also highlighting the uncertainty regarding the location. Additionally, the number of intended acts was unclear. Furthermore, the court noted that these acts were supposed to target an unspecified group of people.

Domestic-Terror Suspects Engaged in a “Failed Attempt at Humour,” Attorney Says

Terror plot

The defence attorney for one of the two men held in custody suspected of planning a domestic-terror attack has dismissed private messages between the suspects as a “failed attempt at humour.” He does not believe that either of the men will be charged with planning a terrorist attack, Vísir reports.

Custody extended by four weeks

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal confirmed the further four-week custody of two men arrested last month suspected of planning a domestic-terrorism attack. 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 had also discussed carrying out attacks against political figures, among them Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson and Chairman of Efling, Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir.

“Having spoken with my client, it appears that the police got ahead of itself in their press conferences and the like. It appears as if this is a matter of a firearms violation,” Sveinn Andri Sveinsson, the new defence attorney for one of the suspects, told Vísir.

Sveinn Andri stated that his client admits to weapons offences but that the men were not planning a real domestic-terror attack, suggesting that that charge rests solely on the evidence of private messages: “It was merely a failed attempt at humour by these two boys; the idea that they had been planning an act of terrorism on public chatrooms, that just doesn’t hold any water.”

“My client is a harmless wretch who wouldn’t hurt a fly. He’s as far from a terrorist as one can imagine. He has no interest in politics, believes that the Pirates are actual buccaneers and not a political party, and so on, and so forth.”

When asked if he believed that the court’s primary task would be to decide whether or not private messages between the two men were “failed attempts at humour,” Sveinn replied that he was altogether unsure whether the charge of planning a terrorist attack would be brought against the two suspects.

“I’m not sure that it’ll go as far as that; my feeling is that, in the end, they’ll be charged for weapons offences to which they will then admit.”

Uncertainty About Unpaid Wages of WOW Flight Attendants

Flight attendants WOW air Icelandair

It is unclear whether the bankrupt estate of WOW Air will be able to fully settle salary-related preferential claims, says Sveinn Andri Sveinsson, Supreme Court Attorney and one of the trustees of the estate, RÚV reports. WOW Air declared bankruptcy in March of this year. The estate has approved salary-related preferential claims amounting to ISK 3.8 billion ($31,224,512 / €28,236,014). The estate’s assets are still being sold and its finances fluctuate week to week. The trustees met with the Icelandic Cabin Crew Association this week.

A Standard Meeting

There was nothing unusual about the meeting between WOW Air’s trustees and representatives of the Icelandic Cabin Crew Association, including the Association’s lawyer, Sveinn Andri stated. During the meeting, the trustees reviewed flight attendants’ demands, invoices, and other matters of dispute, the nature of which was not clarified. More meetings are expected in the future.

About 450 flight attendants have made salary-related preferential claims on the estate. A lot of work has been done to review these claims in detail, Sveinn Andri stated, however, it is unclear at the moment whether the estate will be able to pay outstanding salaries and salary-related fees.

Attempt to Settle All Preferential Claims

The Wage Guarantee Fund will repay a portion of the salaries, but it remains to be seen how much of the remaining balance the estate will be able to settle. All parties with preferential claims are equal in the eyes of the trustees and will receive equal pay. The trustees’ policy is to attempt to settle all preferential claims to prevent debts from falling on the government.

According to an article by Vísir in November, the estate is still disputing claims amounting to approximately ISK 1.3 billion ($10,698,773 / €9,674,486). Another division of estate meeting has been scheduled for January 30 to settle this dispute. The six thousand claims that have been declared of the estate amount to ca ISK 151 billion ($1.2 billion / €1.1 billion). The estate will not consider non-preferential claims as it is clear that the estate will not be able to pay them.

WOW Air was an Icelandic ultra-low-cost carrier founded in 2011 that operated services between Iceland, Europe, Asia, and North America.