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Will Decades-Old Murder Cases be Reheard?

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Will Decades-Old Murder Cases be Reheard?

Photo: Ed Gregory.

The Rehearing Commission will reveal its ruling today about whether the decades-old criminal cases of the disappearance of Guðmundur Einarsson and Geirfinnur Einarsson should be reheard, mbl.is reports. Six people were sentenced for their role in their disappearance and death. The two cases were tried simultaneously. Two of the accused received 16 and 17 year prison sentences. The other four received shorter sentences.

Eighteen-year-old Guðmundur Einarsson disappeared after attending a dance in Hafnarfjörður on January 27, 1974. On November 19 that same year, Geirfinnur Einarsson, 32, a father of two, disappeared after going out to meet and unnamed man at a Keflavík store. Their disappearance resulted in one of the most extensive police investigations in Icelandic history.

In December of 1975, four men were arrested for their alleged involvement in the disappearance of Guðmundur, three of whom later confessed to having caused his death, but later retracted their confessions. They were held in police custody and isolation for an unprecedented length of time. One of them, Sævar Ciesielski, was in police custody for 1,533 days, 615 thereof in isolation, according to mbl.is. He requested a rehearing twice, and another suspect, Erla Bolladóttir did so once, but those requests were denied. Sævar died in an accident in Copenhagen in 2011.

A report was published in 2013, written by a task force appointed by then Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson. The report concluded there was ample reason to rehear the cases. The conclusion was mainly based on the opinion of specialist who said the confessions of the six suspects were unreliable.

The missing men’s bodies were never found; a crime scene was never discovered; no tangible pieces of evidence were found; and the testimony of witnesses and suspects was unreliable. Therefore, the specialists concluded, “the basis for the police investigation relied on a questionable premise.”

In 2014, the BBC published extensive coverage of the cases, which you can read here.

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