From Iceland — Supreme Court Decision In Rape Case Frustrates Police

Supreme Court Decision In Rape Case Frustrates Police

Published August 29, 2012

A recent Supreme Court ruling on police power to request mobile phone records has made a rape case more difficult to investigate, some police argue.
The story begins, Vísir reports, at the merchants’ holiday festival held at the Westman Islands earlier this month. There, a young woman reported that she had been raped. She gave a description of the man to the police, and a man fitting his description was seen on surveillance video leaving the area shortly after the attack took place.
The man is also seen using his mobile phone. Police therefore requested that the phone company Síminn hand over their phone records of everyone in the Herjólfsdal camping site who had sent or received a call between 5:35 and 5.45 that morning.
While the local district court sided with the police, the matter went to Supreme Court, where the decision was reversed. The reasoning given was that while according to law, police can request phone records of a particular number, the law does not provide the power to request phone records of several unspecified phones used in a particular area.
The ruling has infuriated some police, who say it frustrates an ongoing rape investigation, and might even have greater implications. “What if it had been Anders Behring Breivik on the video?,” asked one officer rhetorically. Ólafur Helgi Kjartansson, the county councilperson for the area, told reporters that “It’s our highest court and there’s nothing else we can do. We will try to work with our evidence and see what comes to light.”

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