Trial in Ólafsfjörður Murder Case Scheduled for Next Week

Metropolitan Police

A man accused of homicide in Ólafsfjörður last year is said to have stabbed the deceased twice in the left side, resulting in fatal bleeding, RÚV reports. The case is scheduled for trial next week.

Stabbed the man twice

A man in his thirties has been charged with the murder of a man in Ólafsfjörður in North Iceland last year. The defendant reportedly stabbed the victim twice in the left side, causing him to bleed to death, RÚV reports.

The prosecutor is seeking for the accused, 37, to be sentenced and to cover all legal costs. Additionally, there are two separate civil claims against him: one demanding compensation totalling ISK 12 million [$88,000 / €83,000] plus interest, and the other seeking damages amounting to just under ISK 11 million [$81,000 / €76,000] plus interest, due to the loss of the provider. The deceased was 46 years old.

Unable to rule out self defence

The man died from stab wounds in his home in Ólafsfjörður on the eve of Monday, October 3, Last Year. Originally, three individuals were detained in custody, but two were soon released: the wife of the deceased and the homeowner. The accused claimed that the deceased initiated the confrontation, and the evidence in the case supported this, according to the custody order.

In the police incident report, it is noted that the deceased is believed to have attacked the accused with a knife. According to the defendant, he tried to wrestle the knife away from the deceased, who then fell onto the knife and was fatally wounded. Among other details, the custody decision highlighted that it could not be ruled out that provisions of the Penal Code on self-defence were applicable. Nevertheless, the accused’s detention was extended, in part due to suspicions of his involvement in other crimes.

He was released from prison in March 2022 on parole, with an unplanned remaining sentence of 220 days. According to the detention order, he had at least six encounters with the police since then.

The accused was held in custody for just over a month, until November 7. He is the only one being prosecuted in the case, which is set for trial in the District Court of Northeast Iceland on Tuesday, September 26.

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.

 

Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison for Rauðagerði Murder

Héraðsdómur Reykjavíkur Reykjavík District Court

The Reykjavík District Court sentenced Angjelin Sterkaj to 16 years in prison for the murder of Armando Bequirai this morning, RÚV reports. The other three defendants in the case were acquitted. After police presented him with evidence of his guilt, Angjelin confessed to the murder, which he claimed was committed in self-defence.

Armando Bequirai was shot to death outside his home on Rauðagerði street in Reykjavík on February 13, 2021. He was in his 30s and left behind a wife and two children, who were in the home at the time the murder took place. The police investigation in the case was the most extensive in Icelandic history, and suspicion soon arose that the murder was part of a settlement between criminal groups, domestic as well as international.

Deputy District Prosecutor Kolbrún Benediktsdóttir demanded that the sentence for Angjelin should be between 16 and 20 years, arguing that the murder was a well-organised execution. The three other defendants, Claudia Sofia Coelho Carvahlo, Shpetim Qerimi and Selivrada Mura, all pleaded not guilty and said they did not know what Angjelin had intended to do in Rauðagerði.

Angjelin was also sentenced to pay ISK 4 million [$31,000, €27,000] in damages to Armando’s widow, Þóranna Helga Gunnarsdóttir, as well as ISK 27 million [$209,000, €180,000] due to loss of income, and just over ISK 500,000 [$3,900, €3,300] for funeral costs. He was also sentenced to pay damages to Armando’s parents and his two children, as well as the legal fees of the defence.

Proceedings in the “Rauðagerði” Trial Begin Today

Héraðsdómur Reykjavíkur Reykjavík District Court

The principal proceedings in the so-called Rauðagerði trial begin today. One of the four defendants, Angelin Sterkjaj, has confessed to shooting and killing Armando Beqirai in February of this year.

Witness testimony

The court will hear testimony from four defendants, among them, Angelin Sterkaj – an Albanian male in his twenties who has been living in Iceland for almost a decade – who confessed to shooting and killing Beqirai outside his home in Rauðagerði in February. According to Sterkaj’s confession, the murder was motivated by “personal reasons” (and is believed to be linked to a settlement between criminal groups.)

The other three defendants, two men and one woman, have all pleaded not guilty to their involvement in the murder. A police officer will also give testimony. As reported by RÚV, an inordinate number of interpreters will assist in the proceedings (witnesses and defendants hail from Romania, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Albania, Serbia, Lithuana, Belarus, and Latvia).

Shot nine times

In what has been one of the most extensive police investigations in history, the murder of Armando Beqirai on February 13 led to myriad arrests. Early on in this investigation, fourteen people were given the legal status of accused, and the defendants complicated the police inquiry by altering their statements during interrogations. Beqirai was shot nine times, in his head and torso. The police later recovered the murder weapon, a 22 caliber Sig Sauer pistol, which had been tossed into the Kollafjörður bay.