From Iceland — Activists Face Court Again Over Same Charges

Activists Face Court Again Over Same Charges

Published August 30, 2011

Two activists who in the summer of 2008 tried to stop the deportation of Kenyan refugee Paul Ramses will once again appear in court to face the same charges they had been tried for already.
Paul Ramses, an asylum seeker from Kenya, was in 2008 facing deportation to Italy and separation from his wife and child, who had been born in Iceland. The case gained a great deal of national attention, one part of which being when Haukur Hilmarsson and Jason Slade entered the runway of Keflavík International Airport and attempted to stop the plane which they believed to be carrying Ramses from taking off. Ramses was allowed to return to Iceland some months later, and lives here to this day.
In early 2010, Reykjavík District Court sentenced Haukur to two months in jail without probation and Jason to 35 days probationary incarceration for three years.
The case was appealed, and went to the Supreme Court earlier this year. There, the court ruled that the prosecution had made procedural errors in its case against the two. However, rather than ruling a mistrial, the Supreme Court instead moved the case back to Reykajvík District Court, to give them another chance to try and sentence Haukur and Jason.
The matter would appear to violate Icelandic law regarding a right to a speedy trial, not to mention double jeopardy. Law student Hrefna Dögg Gunnarsdóttir concured, telling Róstur, “The treatment of a criminal case must always abide certain basic rules; for example, the right to a speedy trial on one hand and to bring the truth to light on the other. The root of the problem here lies in that the prosecution has been allowed to correct its mistakes, rather than that these circumstances should clearly lead to acquittal.”
Haukur and Jason are to appear in Reykjavík District Court tomorrow at 9:30.

UPDATE: The law student quoted above, Hrefna Dögg Gunnarsdóttir, has contacted us asking that her quote–which we translated from Ró–be  clarified. “The circumstances themselves should not necessarily lead to an acquittal in themselves; I am saying that a conclusion must be reached in this case, without regard to the penalty clauses that the state prosecutor presented too late.”

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