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Policeman Receives Harsher Sentence for Rough Arrest

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Policeman Receives Harsher Sentence for Rough Arrest

Supreme Court of Iceland

Photo: Páll Kjartansson.

The Supreme Court of Iceland has increased the sentence passed down to the Reykjavík policeman found guilty of assault in the process of an arrest made on Laugavegur last July.

The Supreme Court sentenced the man to a 30-day suspended prison sentence, as well as demanding he pay the victim ISK 430,000 (EUR 2,790/USD 3,470) in compensation and an additional ISK 300,000 (EUR 1,940/USD 2,420) fine.

The Reykjavík District Court had previously sentenced him to pay the same fine and to pay the victim ISK 200,000 (EUR 1,300/USD 1,610) and no suspended prison sentence, RÚV reports.

The assault took place when the policeman arrested a woman on Reykjavík’s main shopping street, Laugavegur. It was captured on camera, with footage being widely distributed online and causing outcry.

The woman was extremely drunk and had been standing in the road blocking the police van from moving forward. When she eventually stepped aside, the police van’s wing mirror struck her lightly in the face as it was being driven past very slowly. At this point, the policeman opened the door and used it to push the woman back so that she fell back onto the pavement. The woman came back from this angrily and spat into the van’s open window, quite possibly onto the driver.

The policeman who was driving then sprang out of the van, dragged her by the arm so that she fell, hitting a bench hard on the way down. She was then turned face down to the ground and dragged towards the back of the vehicle, at which point the man held her down with both knees and handcuffed her, lying face down on the street. She was then transferred to the back of the van by the policeman and his colleague, where she was left still lying on her front, head facing forwards.

The charges centered entirely upon police brutality and were not about whether the woman’s behavior had been acceptable, or whether or not she should have been arrested. The court decided that given the woman’s intoxicated state, the officer did not need to use so much force in the arrest, ruling that the way in which she was handcuffed and the way in which she was put in the vehicle were both unacceptable.

Only one Supreme Court judge voted to keep the District Court sentence unchanged.

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