kringlan | 17.01.2011 10:05
2a Hans Street,
London SW1X 0JE
As we speak, Iceland’s first post-collapse trial is taking place. To no-one’s surprise, the accused are individuals from the most radical part of the uprising that toppled Iceland’s government during the winter of 2008 and 2009. The people – anarchists and radical leftists – are now facing somewhere between 1 and 16 years in prison, will they be found guilty of attacking the parliament.
On December 8th 2008, a group of 30 people planned to enter the Parliament gallery but was met with a tough response from the Parliament’s guards. According to Iceland’s constitution, everybody can enter the Parliament gallery to follow parliamentary sessions. Therefore it was not only their natural right, as the opponents of current powers, to enter there – but also their legal, constitutional right as members of this society. Only 2 out of the 30 people managed to get there; one of them shouted at the MP’s to get out of the building. In reaction, the people were held hostage by police and Parliament guards, few of them arrested and brought to the police station. A year later, accusations were filed against 9 of them.
Between One and Sixteen Year in Prison The Reykjavík Nine (Rvk9) are accused of violating the government authorities, disrupting public order, committing and threatening violence against official workers, leading an organized attack, housebreaking, disrupting a legal meeting and last but not least, threatening the Parliament’s free will. The last mentioned law article – which takes on attacking the Parliament and demands somewhere between 1 and 16 years prison sentence – has been used only once before in the history of the Icelandic state. That was in 1949 when the police and right wing extremists beat up people who rioted by the parliament, protesting Iceland’s entrance into NATO. Of course, it were the NATO opponents who got sentenced, including an official deprivation of their human rights.
Since the court case was originally filed in January this year, many hearings have taken place. One of the Rvk9’s lawyers has systematically shown the witch-hunting nature of the case, as well as the police’s and judge’s favoritism. Of course that should be obvious to everyone with a critical mind. But if anyone still had doubts about it, the lawyer and other opponents of the Rvk9 case have very well exposed the false neutrality of the state institutions.
A big group of policemen have been present in the courthouse at every hearing, by the demand of the judge and chief judge. Looking back to the history of court cases in Iceland, this police presence is unique and shows the judge’s assumption about the threat caused by the defendants and their supporters. Thus he has already taken a stand. Early on, the police stayed behind the curtains but parallel to the public increased interest in the case, the judge and chief judge have handed the authority of the trials to the police. The police has therefore guarded the doors to the courtroom and only allowed entrance to as many people as there are chairs in the room. Later on, the police has formed a wall in front of the courthouse itself and only allowed a handful of people inside. Couple of the defendants have undergone violence and had problems with entering. In one instance, two of them were not allowed into their own trials and despite repeated demands, the judge has not secured that this will not happen again. The police presence has only thrown oil on the fire of rage against the trials, which has resulted in rioting and several arrests.