May 29 2008
1 Comment

Founder of Saving Iceland Acquitted

iceland-police-state.jpgÓlafur Páll Sigurðsson, the founder of Saving Iceland, has been acquitted. Sigurðsson had been accused of vandalizing a police car, using only his fists.
In the end of July 2006, during the 2nd protest camp of Saving Iceland against the dams at Kárahnjúkar, an unmarked 4×4 police car came driving towards the camp site and started photgraphing people having their lunch. A few of the protestors walked towards the car, including Sigurðsson. When he stepped in front of the stationary vehicle the driver of the car, Arinbjörn Snorrason, accelerated suddenly and drove into Sigurðsson, who saved his life by putting his hands on the bonnet of the car and jumping out of its way.
Armand: Brave Cops of Iceland

Sigurðsson pressed charges against Snorrason and the police, but the State Prosecutor said he did not see any reason for taking the charges any further after only talking to the police that were in the car and not to any of the numerous civilian witnesses. A little later the case was turned around, when the police made a counter charge against Sigurðsson, which went to court April 21nd 2008.

Since Sigurðsson was on a suspended prison sentence because of this action against an international aluminium conference in Reykjavík, 2005, there was a risk that Sigurðsson would have to sit in jail for a long time, as well as paying compensation for the supposed damage to the vehicle.

Four witnesses were brought to court; the four police officers who sat in the car that was driven into Sigurðsson. No civilian witnesses bore witness and neither the prosecutor nor the police had seen any reason to take reports from the civilians that were present at the incident in the highlands. No evidence was presented and even though one of the police officers said he had taken photographs, the other ones either said that no photos had been taken and one said that it would not have been worth taking any photos “because the bump would not have been visible on a photograph.”(Oh what a surprise!).

In retrospect, there is good reason to ask what was the police’s real reason for pressing charges against Sigurðsson. Was it some sort of revenge by the state or was it supposed to show activists where the power really lies in this country? Even try to make an example for further court cases and at the same time try to stop the development of radical resistance in Iceland? Most likely all of this.

Even though Sigurðsson has now been acquitted it is impossible to avoid the fact that the original charges pressed against police officer Snorrason were thrown out by the prosecutor. Now when the judge has spoken there surely is a reason to consider taking Sigurdsson’s charges up again. Snorrason’s violent behavior was repeated again and again in the summer of 2006.

There is no reason to celebrate too much the outcome of this trial, since many other individuals who have taken part in Saving Iceland’s actions have been sentenced on dubious grounds for their participation by the very same judge, who avoids meticulously taking any stance on the issue if the police should be rewarded with “damage” payments when they try to kill or seriously injure non-violent protestors!

The 14th of August 2006, several protestors went into the office of Hönnun, a engineering company, to protest against their involvement in the destruction of Kárahnjúkar and the building of Alcoa’s Aluminium smelter in Reyðarfjörður. Later that same year they were sentenced the same judge for housebreaking and an attempt to limit the freedom of the company’s workers. As is seen clearly on this video (which also shows which side used violence!), the door of the office was completely open during the protest and no one was kept “imprisoned”. The sentence was based on lies.

These are just two examples of state harassment against Saving Iceland’s activists. The police have repeatedly searched activist’s houses and tents without warrants, used violence during arrests and tried to get protestors deported from the country because of their involvement in resistance against heavy industry.

Because of a demand, made by the Left Green party in Iceland, Björn Bjarnason, the minister of justice is now writing a report about every single arrest and police action against Saving Iceland’s activists during the last three years. The report should be finished in the end of this month.


One Response to “Founder of Saving Iceland Acquitted”

  1. Sigurður Magnússon says:

    Kafka-stíll á Arinbjörnsmáli

    Lögreglan tapaði máli Arinbjörns Snorrasonar, löggu nr. 8716. Hann keyrði á mótmælandann Ólaf Pál Sigurðsson við Kárahnjúka. Löggan kærði Ólaf fyrir að hafa dældað löggubílinn við það tækifæri. Dómarinn sagði lögguna ekki hafa sýnt ljósmynd til sönnunar á skemmdarverkinu. Og ekki sýnt reikning fyrir viðgerðarkostnaði. Því sé ekki sannað, að Ólafur Páll hafi skemmt bílinn með því að láta hann keyra á sig. Ekki minnist dómarinn á, að óviðeigandi sé að löggan fái skaðabætur fyrir að keyra bílum á fólk. Ríkissaksóknari neitaði að spyrja vitni um ákeyrsluna. Er þetta úr skáldsögu eftir Kafka?

    Jónas Krisjánsson