The trial of former prime minister Geir H. Haarde began today, albeit unceremoniously, kicking off the start of what could prove to be one of the most significant events in Icelandic history.
As reported, last September a parliamentary committee recommended that Geir, along with former Minister of Finance Árni M. Mathiesen, former Minister of Business Björgvin G. Sigurðsson, and former foreign minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir face charges of negligence and mismanagement for their part in the economic crash of fall 2008.
However, there were heated differences of opinion between the Social Democrats and the Leftist-Greens, namely due to Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir expressing doubts that charging the ministers would accomplish anything. In the end, Geir was the only one that a parliamentary majority – 33 votes to 30 – could agree needed to face charges.
RÚV reports that Geir filed a motion to dismiss at Reykjavík District Court not too long ago, but that was referred to the national court, which will be convening in the same building as the Supreme Court, and presided by their justices.
Today the judges met and, while not taking a decision on Geir’s dismissal motion, essentially went over court procedure and will meet again soon.
Four of the judges of the Supreme Court will not be taking part in the trial due to conflict of interest – that is to say, because of their close ties with the conservative party from which Geir hails.
Geir has maintained that he could have done nothing to prevent the economic collapse of 2008. Rather, he says, the damage had already been too great by the time he took office in 2007, and bankers were hiding their activities from the government. He has said that he believes the trial is nothing more than a political vendetta against him.
Haarde Accuses Parliament of “Political Vendetta”
Geir Haarde Contends “Political Persecution” At Work
Former PM to Be Charged with Negligence