From Iceland — Rape Investigation Falls Apart, Survivor To Sue

Rape Investigation Falls Apart, Survivor To Sue

Published June 2, 2017

Rape Investigation Falls Apart, Survivor To Sue

On September 14, 2014, a woman in Ísafjörður was raped by two men. Immediately afterwards, the survivor did everything they tell you you’re supposed to do: she sought medical attention at the local clinic, Fjórðungssjúkrahúsið, where she was examined and biological samples were taken, and the police were contacted right away.

However, carelessness on the part of the people entrusted with investigating in such cases led to the entire case being undermined and collapsing. In the wake of this, the victim is now filing a civil suit against her attackers.

What exactly went wrong?

First of all, the men in question were not arrested and questioned right away. This, Ísafjörður police chief Karl Ingi Vilbergsson told reporters, was because a doctor from the clinic came to the police and requested the rape kit back, and would also not disclose who the survivor in question was.

In December 2014, she filed charges. When they arrived in Iceland in February 2015, they were called in to the police for questioning. This is when the police asked the clinic for the evidence back. The following month, the clinic responded that the evidence had been sent.

Summer arrived. The police submitted their case to the state prosecutor, who in turn asked for the evidence. The police, realising they never actually received it, contacted the clinic in August of that year. The police were informed that the evidence in question had, in fact, been destroyed, three weeks prior to their request in February, and had thus not been sent in March, despite what the clinic told them. As such, the case was dropped.

The consequences

As is often the case in the wake of a sexual assault, the survivor suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, moved from Ísafjörður and dropped out of school. Now, with the help of lawyer Sigrún Jóhannsdóttir, she is filing a civil suit against her attackers.

For context, only one other such a civil suit has ever been filed in Iceland, when a woman was awarded 1.1 million ISK (just over €9,700) in a civil suit she filed against men who had gang raped her. In this instance, the survivor in question is seeking full restitution.

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