No Deadline for Decision on Whether Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson Will Be Prosecuted in UK

The Office of the Crown Prosecutor in the UK is currently reviewing evidence against Icelandic footballer Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson and deciding whether it will pursue prosecution against the former Everton midfielder or drop the matter entirely, RÚV reports. Gylfi Þór has been accused of “multiple sexual offenses” and has been subject to a travel ban that has prevented him from leaving the UK since being arrested at his home in Manchester in July 2021.

Responding to an inquiry from RÚV, Nazia Dewji, a spokesperson for the Office of the Crown Prosecutor, said that there was no set deadline by which a decision on the matter must be made. Dewji said that the evidence from the police investigation had been received by the prosecutor at the end of January.

Gylfi Þór was released on bail shortly after his arrest, but has not played in a professional football match since then. He was taken off the active roster for the Premier League team Everton and his contract was not renewed when it ran out last summer. He has not played with the Icelandic Men’s National Team since then either.

In October 2022, Gylfi Þór’s father Sigurður Aðalsteinsson, gave an interview in which he called on the Icelandic government to come to his son’s assistance. The case had been dragged on for far longer than legally reasonable, he argued. “If someone is detained in some [other] country for some hypothetical offense, you can’t just let him languish there for a year, year and a half just endlessly waiting,” he said. At the time, the footballer’s family hoped to change Gylfi Þór’s legal domicile to Iceland so as to make it harder for the British judiciary to extend his travel ban. It was the first time that anyone close to Gylfi Þór had confirmed that any such travel ban existed.

Update April 14, 2023: Charges Dropped Against Footballer Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson

WWII Mortar Exploded in Controlled Detonation

The Coast Guard’s Explosives Unit was dispatched on Friday to detonate an unexploded British mortar that was found on Mt. Hlíðarfjall, just west of Akureyri, RÚV reports. The mortar dated back to World War II and was found not far from an area the British occupying forces used for training at the time.

The mortar was found by local teacher Brynjar Karl Óttarsson. “I found [it] last fall and immediately suspected that it was a bomb,” he explained. “I waited  [to report it] because winter was setting in but then I let [the authorities] know about it in the summer and they came yesterday. We went back up there and blasted that bomb to smithereens.”

Brynjar Karl Óttarsson

Brynjar accompanied two Coast Guard specialists and an explosive expert from the British army to the site where the mortar was found and was allowed to observe the controlled detonation.

“Hlíðarfjall is now one mystery poorer, but also a safer place to be,” he wrote in a Facebook post about the experience.

“Dangerous explosive remnants have been found on the mountain in recent years,” wrote Brynjar Karl. “But this is the first unexploded bomb to pop up on Hlíðarfjall since I started making a habit of going there. The cylinder intact and the tail like new. Einu með öllu: ‘one with everything,’ as the saying goes.”

“I got to watch the ceremony that goes along with destroying such a troublesome artifact,” he continued. “Place it against a large rock, attach an explosive device, position yourself at a reasonable distance, relay messages via radio to the appropriate parties about the impending explosion, and then press the button. KABOOM.”

Brynjar Karl Óttarsson

“I was shocked, to be honest. I figured on a sound, but not such a cacophony. Even the veteran jumped: ‘I never get used to this,’ said the Brit. The stillness and peace of the mountain of course magnified the din. The plume of smoke was not as magisterial. That bomb finally got to explode after 80 years. Mission accomplished and back down the mountain before dark.”

Asked if he thought it was possible that there were more unexploded bombs hidden on Hlíðarfjall, Brynjar Karl said it was quite possible, given the area’s history as a military training site. But the location where the mortar was found is well off the beaten track, he assured reporters, and quite a distance from the nearest ski area. Even so, caution is always the best policy, he said. “There’s always associated risk if you’re out in nature.”

Brexit Brings No Immediate Changes for Icelanders Living in UK

Great Britain’s official exit from the European Union on Friday night won’t have any immediate ramifications for Icelanders who have settled in the country, Vísir reports. Nevertheless, authorities have urged Icelanders intending to remain in the UK after that time to take steps to secure residence permits in advance.

British Ambassador Michael Nevin has stressed that for the time being at least, nothing has really changed; the UK will still abide by European Union laws and regulations until December 31, 2020. He also noted that Icelandic tourists to the UK will be able to enter the country as usual until the same date. “There will be some new regulations after that,” he said, “but Britain will remain open to Icelanders.”

Icelanders who live in the UK now and intend to remain in 2021 and beyond are reminded, however, to apply for a ‘settled status’ residence permit. It’s estimated that 2-3,000 Icelanders live in the UK and thus far, 1,100 have applied for settled status. Stefán Haukur Jóhannesson, Iceland’s ambassador in London, says the deadline is June 30, but urges Icelanders not to wait til the last minute. “It’s not hard to do—there’s an app,” he remarked.

Iceland and UK both “free trade-minded”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson says the next step will be for Iceland to establish new agreements with the UK. Trade and business will be foremost among Iceland’s priorities when negotiating, particularly as regards the fishing industry.

“One of the things we’ve placed an emphasis on is having better access than we currently do via EEA agreements when it comes to marine products,” remarked Guðlaugur. “Because although our current access is good, we’re still not talking about a total absence of customs duties.”

The outlook for favourable trade arrangements with the UK currently seems good for Iceland. For one, both Iceland and the UK are “free trade-minded” says Ambassador Nevin. “We don’t like customs duties and have a high regard for the values of the free market. Which is why we want a trade agreement that doesn’t create any obstacles between us.”

Iceland Wins Trademark Dispute Against Supermarket Chain

Iceland supermarket

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has ruled that UK-based supermarket chain Iceland Foods Ltd. may not register a trademark on the word “Iceland” within the European Union, Kjarninn reports.

The supermarket chain secured a EU-wide trademark for the word “Iceland” in 2014, which Icelandic authorities sued to have invalidated on the basis of being far too broad and creating a monopoly that prevented Icelandic companies from registering their products with reference to their country of origin. Moreover, said the Icelandic government, “Iceland” is widely received as a geographical name and should have never been approved for trademark in the first place.

Now, years later, EUIPO has ruled in favour of Iceland – the country – and invalidated the supermarket’s trademark entirely, noting that “It has been adequately shown that consumers in EU countries know that Iceland is a country in Europe and also that the country has historical and economic ties to EU countries, in addition to geographic proximity.”

Foreign Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson said he welcomed the ruling, but was not surprised by it. “…[I]t defies common sense that a foreign company can stake a claim to the name of a sovereign nation as was done [in this case],” he remarked. “What we’re talking about here is a milestone victory in a matter of real importance for Icelandic exporters. Our country is known for its purity and its sustainability, hence the value of indicating the origin of Icelandic products.”

Iceland Foods Ltd. has two months to appeal the ruling.

Núpsvötn Car Accident Among Worst in Icelandic History

fatal accident Iceland

The car accident in which three British citizens, including a child, lost their lives on Thursday morning is among the worst car accidents to have ever occurred in Iceland, RÚV reports.

There have only been three traffic incidents in Iceland in which more than three people died. There were four victims in each of those accidents. There have been nineteen accidents in Iceland in which there were an equal number of fatalities. The most recent of these occurred last November. The earliest happened in 2000, a year in which there were actually three serious traffic accidents with three fatalities apiece.

Thursday morning’s accident occurred when a car drove off the bridge over Núpsvötn on the south coast. Two brothers and their families were driving in the car, seven passengers in total, all of whom were British citizens who were born in India. Both of the brothers were seriously injured in the accident, and both of their wives died. Two other young children were transported to the hospital after the accident and remain in critical condition.

The Indian embassy in Iceland confirmed the above details and has also been in touch with the brothers’ family in India. British friends of the family were expected to arrive in Iceland on Thursday night.