Crew members from the Greenlandic vessel Polar Nanoq gave their testimony in court this morning in the Birna Brjánsdóttir murder case. As has been extensively reported on earlier this year, Birna’s sudden disappearance in January and subsequent discovery of her body in the week following shook the Icelandic nation. Birna’s driver’s license, found aboard the trawler Polar Nanoq, was among the evidence in the investigation. It was found to contain fingerprints belonging to the suspect, Thomas Möller Olsen, a member of the ship’s crew. Olsen’s hearing has been delayed until the end of August, RÚV reports, citing an unfinished forensic report. He was not present during today’s hearings.
Seven members of the Polar Nanoq crew gave their testimony earlier today regarding Olsen’s activities in the fateful hours surrounding Birna’s death, Vísir reports. Olsen was described positively by his crewmates as “friendly,” “popular” and “very conscientious in his work.” None of them claimed to have had any special knowledge of Olsen’s whereabouts on that night; he had eaten lunch with other members of the crew and then went off in his rental car, a red Kia. The car is of particular importance in the trial, as it was discovered to be covered in a considerable amount of Birna’s blood, which had been cleaned up. Olsen has admitted to having picked up Birna in that car, but maintains that he had dropped her off alive. A few of the crew members also confirmed having seen him in that rental car, including carrying a wet towel from the car on the pier that night.
Furthermore, the ship’s first mate testified that Olsen had become panicked and hysterical after receiving a text message from a journalist, inquiring about Birna’s disappearance. It also came to light during the hearings that Olsen had received a text message from his girlfriend around the same time, where he was told that he might be under suspicion in Iceland in connection with the young woman’s dissappearance. Olsen’s fellow crew members confirm that he became extremely anxious upon reading the message, no longer capable of eating or speaking. Members of the crew saw it necessary to give him tranquilizing medication to calm his nerves.
In the captain’s testimony, it came to light that Olsen had been told that there was an engine failure as police SWAT teams were on their way to apprehend him. When he heard the helicopters swarming overhead, he is said to have asked the ship’s cook, “Do you think they’re coming to get me?”
The trial has been adjourned until August, when Olsen himself will testify.