Published January 20, 2011
The second day of the Reykjavík Nine trial continues to never have a dull moment.
Police who had arrived at parliament on the day that nine protesters allegedly tried to force their way into the building testified yesterday. Officer Ellert Björn Svavarsson said that they had received a call that parliament had been attacked. Upon arrival and entering the building, they discovered that “there were undesirable people in the parliament gallery”. Several arrests were made, with charges including not following a police order.
One police officer who testified, Guðmundur Ingi Rúnarsson, has been accused by the protesters of using excessive force. He allegedly struck Andra Lemarqui in the face several times at the time of the arrest. When asked whether this was true, he told the court that he did not recall doing so.
“You never remember anything!,” someone shouted from the court. “Damned idiot!”
Defence attorney Ragnar Aðalsteinsson asked Guðmundur Ingi why only these nine were arrested. The officer explained that the nine had been violent. When Ragnar then asked what the situation was like outside of parliament, among the crowds of protests, the officer responded, “It was worse.”
Another witness for the defence was Lárus Páll Birgisson, who also took part in the protests of December 2008 and had also attempted to enter parliament, but was never charged with a crime. The defence is taking the position that if the nine charged had committed a crime, then this raises the question of why the close to 30 others who did the same thing were not charged.
Lárus took the stand and gave his testimony of events that day. When the questions were finished, Lárus said, “Wait, is that it? I should also be charged.”
The judge told Lárus that this was neither the time nor the place for such a statement. “Am I not in a courtroom?,” Lárus responded, provoking laughter in the crowd.
Another witness who testified was Minister of Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphéðinsson, who at the time of the incident was Minister of Industry, and was in the halls of parliament that day.
Össur displayed his trademark way with words by saying that when police had come to arrest the nine, he had heard shouting, but that he heard much more shouting that day from the parliamentary podium itself.
He also testified that he himself had visited the parliamentary gallery in his younger days, and in fact held his first public speech from that gallery. He added that he had not been arrested for the event.
Einar K. Guðfinnsson, another MP who was in the halls of parliament that day, testified that he was not particularly afraid when the nine protesters in question appeared in the gallery.
Today there are protests scheduled in front of parliament at 11:00. If Facebook activity is any indication, many are expected to attend.
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Liveblog from the trial (in English)