'Laws' Tag Archive

Dec 10 2011

For the Greater Glory of… Justice?


By Snorri Páll Jónsson Úlfhildarson.
Originally published in the Reykjavík Grapevine.

Criminal court cases, waged by The State against political dissidents for acts of protest and civil disobedience, can be understood in two ways. Firstly, the juridical system can be seen as a wholly legitimate platform for solving social conflicts. Such a process then results with a verdict delivered by Lady Justice’s independent agents—a ruling located somewhere on the scale between full punishment and absolute acquittal. According to this view, it is at this point only that a punishment possibly enters the picture. And only if deserved.

Secondly—and herein lies a fundamental difference—the original decision to press charges can be seen as a punishment in itself, regardless of the final verdict. With these two points of understanding in mind, two recent verdicts, which have not received much attention, are worth observing.

You Shall Not Run

Number one is the case against Haukur Hilmarsson and Jason Slade who in June 2008, while attempting to stop an airplane from departing, and thereby deporting Kenyan asylum seeker Paul Ramses to Italy, ran onto a closed-off area at the Leifur Eiríksson International Airport in Keflavík. To shorten a long and complicated story (covered in-length here) their political sprint snowballed into protests of all kinds, eventually bringing the asylum seeker back to Iceland, where he and his family were granted an asylum. Read More

Nov 09 2011
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From Siberia to Iceland: Century Aluminum, Glencore and the Incestuous World of Mining


A special report for Saving Iceland by Dónal O’Driscoll

Preface

Glencore are the majority shareholder of Century, the owner of one operational and one half-built smelter in Iceland, it’s key operations for aluminium smelting. But who are Glencore and what are the implications for Iceland? This comprehensive article profiles the world’s biggest commodity broker, who’s only comparable predecessor was Enron. The profile covers the reach and grip of Glencore’s domination of metal, grain, coal and bio-oils markets, allowing it to set prices which profit very few and are detrimental to many. It shows the tight web of connections between the major mining companies and Glencore through shared board history and shared ownership of assets, cataloguing key shareholders (and board members) who’s stakes make them larger shareholders than institutional investors in ownership of Glencore. These connections include Rusal’s co chair Nathaniel Rothschild, a financier with a $40m investment in Glencore, and a personal friend of Peter Mandelson (former EU trade commissioner and British politician) and George Osborne (UK Chancellor).

The article details the human rights and environmental abuses of Glencore at it’s many operations, including the 2009 killing of Mayan indigenous leader Adolfo Ich Chamán who spoke out about Century’s activities in Guatemala under CEO-ship of Peter Jones (still a Century board member). It claims that Glencore is higher than most in the running for most abusive and environmentally detrimental mining company, going where lesser devils fear to tread – trading with Congo, Central Asia and embargoed countries such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and apartheid South Africa. Glencore founder Marc Rich was involved in trading embargoed Iranian oil, and fled the United States in 1983 accused of insider dealing and tax dodging over Iranian deals, becoming one of the 10 fugitives most wanted by the FBI, until he was pardoned by Bill Clinton. Glencore is still run by two of his main men. Read More

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Sep 09 2011
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Time Stands Still — Activists Stuck in a Seemingly Endless Legal Limbo


By Snorri Páll Jónsson Úlfhildarson

On Friday September 2, two men appeared in court in downtown Reykjavík. It wasn’t their first time—and it probably won’t be their last. If found guilty, the defendants, Haukur Hilmarsson and Jason Thomas Slade, face up to six years in prison, due to a peculiar action on their behalves that marks a turning point in Icelandic asylum-seeker affairs.

On the morning of July 3, 2008, Haukur and Jason darted onto the runway of Leifur Eiríksson International Airport in Keflavík, hoping to prevent a flight from departing, and deporting. Inside the plane, which was headed to Italy, sat one Paul Ramses, a Kenyan refugee. The two activists ran alongside the plane, and placed themselves in front of it—halting its takeoff.

It would be wrong to assume that anything has changed since 2008. Iceland may have seen an infamous economic collapse followed by a popular uprising and a new government, but for the two activists it must feel like time is standing still. Since their arrest at the airport, they have been stuck in a seemingly endless legal limbo, first charged for housebreaking and reckless endangerment and later thrown between all levels of the juridical system. Last Friday, the case’s principal proceedings took place for the second time in Reykjavík’s District Court, after the courts original sentences were ruled null and void by Iceland’s Supreme Court. Read More

Jun 23 2011
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The Reykjavík One: The Trials and Tribulations of Geir H. Haarde


By Snorri Páll Jónsson Úlfhildarson
Originally published in The Reykjavík Grapevine

A little more than a year ago, several Icelandic bankers were arrested and kept in custody in relation to the Special Prosecutor’s investigation into the 2008 economic collapse, its antecedents and causes. Appearing in political TV talk show Silfur Egils shortly afterwards, French-Norwegian magistrate Eva Joly, who at that time served as the Prosecutor’s special assistant, talked about how society does not expect—and has problems to deal with—politically and economically powerful people being arrested, interrogated and possibly sentenced.

Eva Joly was right. And the reason? Habit. Whether a journalist, police officer, lawyer, judge or a powerless citizen, in a civilised society based on dualistic ideas of good and evil, one is most likely unable to recognise well-dressed and eloquent people—with possessions and power in their pockets—as anything other than good. During the interview, Eva compared those people with drug users and dealers that are brought to court, who generally are immediately seen by society as criminals deserving to face “justice”. Another rightful comparison would be political dissidents. Read More

May 20 2011
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Cover-ups and Evasions Condoned by the Minister of the Interior


Statement from Saving Iceland regarding the recently published report by the National Commissioner’s ‘National Security Unit’. The report was requested by the Minister of the Interior and was supposed to answer the questions if the Icelandic police were aware of and collaborated in British police spy Mark Kennedy’s infiltration of the Saving Iceland network. (Translated from Icelandic.)

The Saving Iceland network has spent some time examining the report authored  by the National Commissioner’s ‘National Security Unit’ published on May 17. Already at this stage we would like to make a considerable number of remarks.

First of all we have to express our astonishment if Ögmundur Jónasson, the Minister of the Interior is going to accept as valid the poorly reasoned cover-ups that are resorted to by the report’s authors. It is also remarkable how superficial and simply untrue the Minister’s own interpretation of the report has been so far. Unfortunately the same is true of the coverage of the report made by some of the Icelandic corporate media.

The report’s most serious flaw is of course the fact that it completely evades the responsibility that it was officially intended to assume. The only de facto information about the report’s actual subject is on page 12,  where it is stated that the police received “confidential information” concerning the intended protests against the Kárahnjúkar dam from both domestic and foreign “informers”, and that this information was used to organize the police’s reaction. Read More

May 12 2011

German MP Appeals to Icelandic Authorities to Come Clean About Spying on Saving Iceland


Statement issued by German Linke MP Andrej Hunko sent to all Icelandic MPs and media.

International infiltration of protest movements to be investigated

“I appeal to the Icelandic authorities to bring to light, in their investigations, the covert activities of foreign police in Iceland. Given that the British police spy Mark Kennedy was active not only in Germany, but also in France, Italy, Poland, Ireland and Iceland, it is obvious that these operations targeted left-wing activists with international links,” said Andrej Hunko, Member of the German Parliament, after gathering new evidence on Kennedy’s activities in Iceland.

Hunko continued:

“I’m glad to see investigations by activists and parliamentarians in their countries to uncover the cross-border efforts to infiltrate anti-capitalist groups. But most interior ministries in the EU member states are remaining silent about their cooperation or are giving conflicting responses. Read More

May 11 2011

Reykjavík Nine: What Did We Learn?


By Magnús Sveinn Helgason

By mid March, the case against the Reykjavík Nine (who had been accused of conspiracy to attack Alþingi with the intent of compromising its “independence and sanctity”) finally came to a close when the state prosecutor decided not to appeal the Reykjavík district court ruling in the case. The nine had been acquitted of all the major charges of the prosecution.

Not for lack of evidence or because the nine were able to slip through legal loopholes. No, the court found that there was absolutely no evidence to support the case of the prosecution; that there was absolutely nothing that indicated the group had ever intended to do anything but exercise its constitutional right to protest peacefully in a public space. The court did, however, find four protesters guilty of relatively minor offences: disobeying police orders and obstructing public officials performing their duties. Read More

May 03 2011
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New Photographic Evidence Shows that Icelandic Police Lied About their Dealings with Mark Kennedy


In January 2011, when the illegal covert actions of UK police in Icelandic jurisdiction hit the pages of the international media, the local police forces of the two Icelandic towns Seydisfjörður and Eskifjörður in Eastern Iceland issued a statement in response to queries from the Icelandic National Broadcaster (RUV). The Broadcaster asked if the Icelandic police had been aware of the infiltration of the Saving Iceland network by British police spy Mark Kennedy. According to the Broadcaster the two police forces denied that they had had any “dealings with Kennedy during the protests against the Kárahnjúkar dams.”

Saving Iceland can now reveal evidence that shows clearly that the two police forces are not telling the truth about their dealings with Kennedy. The top photograph accompanying this statement shows two Icelandic police officers grappling with Mark Kennedy during a Saving Iceland action that took place on 26 July 2005 at the site of the Kárahnjúkar central dam. Clearly the incident pictured shows that the Icelandic police most certainly had “dealings” with the British spy. Read More

Feb 26 2011
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After Iceland’s Financial Storm, Reykjavik 9 Gather Steam


TheFreshOutlook.Com

In one of the most controversial trials in Iceland, four of a group popularly known as the “Reykjavik 9” have been sentenced. A most fascinating, and what many have also termed “absurd” case in the country’s recent history has seen nine peaceful protesters accused of threatening the sovereignty of the Parliament; being charged with article 100 of the country’s penal code which deals with acts of terrorism– one that carries a sentence from a year to life in prison.

Reykjavik District Court announced its ruling of the case on February 16, amidst tremendous national furore, as the Reykjavik 9 waited for their verdict on “attacking” the Icelandic Parliament, Althingi, in December 2008. All nine defendants were acquitted of their initial charges. However, four were found guilty of rioting and were slapped with sentences ranging from fines to conditional prison sentences up to 4 months. Read More

Feb 26 2011

“These Nine People were the Perfect Culprits”


TheFreshOutlook.Com

Since the verdict declared on February 16, support for the Reykjavik 9 has been growing, and the case seems far from over; the question now remains whether the four who have been sentenced will appeal to the Supreme Court of Iceland against the judgement by the Reykjavik District Court.


The Fresh Outlook’s Managing Editor, Shayoni Sarkar, continues to speak to key figures surrounding the Reykjavik 9. In an exclusive interview, Saving Iceland, a network of people from different nationalities championing the causes of the country, speaks about the Reykjavik 9. Read More

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