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Reactions to Report on Iceland Murder Cases

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Reactions to Report on Iceland Murder Cases

In reaction to the extensive evaluation of the investigation, trial and conviction following the disappearance of Guðmundur Einarsson and Geirfinnur Einarsson in 1974, presented on Monday, Supreme Court lawyer Brynjar Níelsson published a summary of the investigation and verdict, pointing out some aspects of the murder cases on pressan.is.

litlahraun_psLitla-Hraun prison in South Iceland. Photo: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review.

Brynjar writes that it appears to be a widespread viewpoint that the six defendants were wrongly accused for the murders of Guðmundur and Geirfinnur. However, that was not the general attitude among the public when the verdict was announced in the Supreme Court in 1980, Brynjar pointed out.

This change in attitude, Brynjar states, can be traced back to a television film by Sigursteinn Másson and Kristján Guy Burgess, Aðför að lögum, broadcast in 1997. The film was not presented as a documentary at the time, Brynjar maintains, but has since been considered as such.

According to Brynjar, it is a widespread notion that the defendants didn’t confess to the murders until after having been subject to long-standing physical and mental abuse in solitary confinement.

However, Erla Bolladóttir and Sævar Marínó Ciesielski, who were placed in custody for a separate case of fraud on December 12 and 13, 1975, confessed to having been party to the death of Guðmundur several days after their arrest, as did Tryggvi Rúnar Leifsson, Brynjar recounted.

As for the case of Geirfinnur, Erla told the police her account of his disappearance on January 21, 1976, and Sævar the following day, Brynjar writes.

Brynjar also points out accounts of witnesses and other evidence that were used when convicting the alleged perpetrators.

He states that he only wants to bring attention to these facts but, “I am not capable more than anyone else to evaluate the truth value of the defendants’ confessions, their withdrawal, or the testimonies of witnesses that appeared before the court.”

These cases were evaluated by a task force appointed by the Ministry of the Interior, which was comprised of experienced psychologists, among others. Their opinion is that the testimonies of the six defendants were either unreliable or false and that the cases should be reopened.

State Prosecutor Sigríður Friðjónsdóttir told Fréttablaðið that she and other prosecutors will now read the task force’s report and estimate whether there is reason to reopen the cases. “We will try to have something ready shortly after Easter.”

One of the defendants, Erla Bolladóttir, declared the report’s publication to be a victory for justice. “I find that it would only be befitting for the authorities to take it all the way,” she commented.

Erla told Stöð 2 that she would like her descendants to know her as an innocent victim rather than a convicted criminal.

Another of the defendants, Guðjón Skarphéðinsson, stated that he agrees with the authors of the report that his testimony had been false, “I can’t say much when big shots like that come to this conclusion and cannot object.” But he added that this is nothing new.

Guðjón explained on Stöð 2 that when the police time and time again maintained that certain events had taken place, he eventually started agreeing that something like that might have happened.

Related:

26.03.2013 | Task Force Recommends Reopening of Murder Cases

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