From Iceland — Ministers Closer to Facing Charges

Ministers Closer to Facing Charges

Published September 13, 2010

Ministers of the previous Icelandic government are now one step closer to facing charges of negligence and mismanagement, contributing to the economic collapse of the country. A “national court” could be called to put the accused on trial and, if found guilty, face prison.
The parliamentary committee assembled to assess who, if anyone, should face charges delivered its findings over the weekend. As to be expected of a committee comprised of all five parties, opinions were mixed. For the sake of clarity, use the following key:
I: Independence Party, conservatives.
S: Social Democratic Alliance, center-left.
M: The Movement, an activist party.
L: Leftist-Green Party.
P: Progressive Party, center-right.
Social Democrat members of the committee – Magnús Orri Schram and Oddný G. Harðardóttir – have recommended that former Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde (I), former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir (S) og former Minister of Finance Árni M. Mathiesen (I) be taken before a national court, which would put them on trial for charges of negligence and mismanagement and, if found guilty, deliver a sentence that could include prison time.
However, committee members for the Leftist-Greens, The Movement, and the Progressives – Atli Gíslason (L), Lilja Rafney Magnúsdóttir (L), Eygló Harðardóttir (P), Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson (P) and Birgitta Jónsdóttir (M) – have recommended that former Minister of Business Björgvin G. Sigurðsson (S) be added to that group.
The two conservatives on the committee – Ragnheiður Ríkharðsdóttir and Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir – gave the opinion that they do not want any government official who was in power from 2006 to 2008 to be charged.
None of the politicians facing these charges believe they were at fault for contributing to the collapse of the Icelandic economy. Geir H. Haarde told reporters, in fact, that he had been “willingly lied to” by others, and had no way of knowing what was actually going on within the Central Bank or other banks. Others accused have made similar claims.
According to Icelandic law, the maximum sentence a minister can be charged for violating the code of conduct for office is two years.
A national court has never been called together since its establishment in 1905. Parliament is expected to discuss the committee’s findings today.

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