Wrong To Put Geir On Trial

Published October 2, 2012

The trial of former Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde reflected a blurred line between political and criminal responsibility, says a memorandum from the EU’s center-right European People’s Party.
Last April, Geir stood accused of negligence and mismanagement leading to the bank collapse of 2008, in violation of Article 17 of Iceland’s constitution. Numerous witnesses came forward in the course of the trial, from former Central Bank chairman Davíð Oddsson to former and current members of government, as well as former high-rollers in Iceland’s banking community. Ultimately, Geir was found guilty of one charge of negligence, but was not sentenced.
A new memorandum (.pdf file), written for the committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, comes from Pieter Omtzigt, an EMP for the center-right European People’s Party. The memo states that the trial is “arguably one of those cases from which lessons can be drawn for keeping political and criminal responsibility separate.”
Pieter detailed his visit to Iceland and his interviews with both the right and the left, eventually arriving that the conclusion:

In my view, the case of former Prime Minister Geir Haarde is a case in point demonstrating that holding a political leader criminally responsible for his political acts (and even omissions) poisons the political climate without advancing the cause of justice. … As an economist, I am not so sure that the policies pursued by the Government of Prime Minister Geir Haarde were really so bad. … The attempt to criminalise the former Prime Ministers’ policies has clearly backfired against the political class as a whole and in particular against those who were elected on the strength of their promise to “moralise” politics, which had been perceived as being too closely linked to big business. The party-political motivation of singling out the former Prime Minister for criminal prosecution is thinly veiled and has left a bad aftertaste, even among leading supporters of the principle of criminal responsibility for such policy decisions as the handling of the banking crisis in Iceland.

Omtzigt also warned of a domino effect of sorts across Europe because of the trial, saying in part:
“I would be rather worried that if we were to accept the precedent of the criminal prosecution and conviction of Mr. Geir Haarde, we would have to expect a wave of prosecutions against many politicians in many countries – if and when the taxpayers in the “Northern” countries of the Euro zone will be made to foot the bill for the staggering rescue packages in favour of “Southern” countries, and/or the people in the “Southern” countries realise how deep the trouble really is that they are in because of the irresponsible fiscal policies pursued for many years by their own Governments. I do not argue that our Governments should not be held to account for the consequences of these policies. But individual politicians should only be held criminally responsible if their action fell outside the scope of normal political decision-making. The latter must be judged exclusively in the “courts” of democratic elections.”



News
Here’s What You Need to Know About Dropping Oil Prices and Drekasvæðið

Here’s What You Need to Know About Dropping Oil Prices and Drekasvæðið

by

Lately it seems that people are getting more and more concerned about the dropping price of oil. This is perhaps less obvious to those of us buying petrol in Iceland, but some Icelanders are questioning whether the search for oil in Drekasvæðið (the ‘Dreka’ or ‘Dragon’ region to the northeast of Iceland)  should continue with crude prices down 55% since June. It seems logical that if the price is dropping there is no reason to look for more resources, but as with most things, it is a little more complicated than that. In December, OPEC met to discuss what should

News
PHOTOS: Reykjavík International Games: Archery

PHOTOS: Reykjavík International Games: Archery

by

The Reykjavík International Games are being held January 16 – 25, and the Archery competition took place on January 17 & 18. The qualification round consisted of FITA triple 40 cm targets for Compound bows and Recurve bows. Archery has always been the sexier cousin of target shooting—rich with history and drama. Also, it isn’t mentioned enough, if you accidentally shoot your friend with anything lethal, a bow and arrow is the most comical. For more information, check out the website: www.rig.is See Also: Reykjavík International Games Swimming (photo gallery)       Reykjavík International Games: Figure Skating (photo gallery)

News
PHOTOS: Karate at Reykjavík International Games

PHOTOS: Karate at Reykjavík International Games

by

The Reykjavík International Games are being held January 16 – 25, and the Karate competition took place on January 17, which included individual categories for both Kata and Kumite. Kata is a choreographed exhibition of skill, whereas Kumite is unrehearsed sparring. Emma Lucraft from England won women’s kata, which is maybe not a surprise as she holds the eleventh place in the Karate world rankings, whereas Elías Snorrason from the Reykjavík Karate Club took the men’s title. Similarly, Viktorija Rezajeva from Latvia, 28th place in the world rankings, won women’s kumite competition, and Lonni Boulesnane from France came in first place in the men’s

News
Arctic Research Gets Cash Injection

Arctic Research Gets Cash Injection

by

The Fulbright Commission of Iceland has signed an agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the United States guaranteeing 550,000 USD over the next three years to support US scientists’ Arctic research in Iceland. The agreement is the first of its kind between any Fulbright Commission and the NSF and was signed at the Icelandic Embassy in Washington D.C. with Evan Ryan, the United States’ Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, and Geir H. Haarde, Iceland’s Ambassador to the US. The Fulbright Commission and National Science Foundation hope the agreement will create new opportunities for collaboration

News
Pantless Cat Burglar Escapes With 4 Bengals

Pantless Cat Burglar Escapes With 4 Bengals

by

Police are using their only evidence, a bra – size 34D – and a pair of leopard print sweatpants, as a means to track down a thief who stole four Bengal cats from a cat breeder yesterday, reports Vísir. “Yes this is our evidence,” said Detective Superintendent Óli Sigurðsson with the Selfoss Police Department. “We’re looking for the owner of these pants and bra and are asking anyone with information to help us solve this case by calling our hotline, 444-2000.” According to the cat breeder’s Facebook page, someone “not very strong” broke into the cat enclosure and stole a cage

News
Icelandic Firm To Gather Credit Info In Eight West African States

Icelandic Firm To Gather Credit Info In Eight West African States

by

The Icelandic credit bureau CreditInfo has won a contract with the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) to manage a regional private credit reporting system, the Private Credit Bureau (PCB), collecting and mediating financial information within the West African Economic And Monetary Union (UEMOA). The Union’s member-countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, the Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo, with a total population of over 100 million people. A news release released by CreditInfo VoLo, signed by M. Muhammad M. Jagana, claims that the “strategic infrastructure will not only accelerate the credit development in the region, but also

Show Me More!