Former Prime Minister of Iceland Geir H. Haarde will, effective January 1, 2015, serve as “an ambassador in foreign service” to an as-yet unspecified appointment.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that Geir H. Haarde has been appointed as “an ambassador in foreign service”, along Left-Green MP and former Foreign Affairs Committee chairperson Árni Þór Sigurðsson. Their appointments go into effect on January 1, 2015.
In 2010, parliament narrowly voted in favour of Geir standing trial for negligence and mismanagement while in office. The vote came in the wake of the 2010 Special Investigative Commission Report on the contributing causes of Iceland’s autumn 2008 financial meltdown. Geir, along with three other ministers, were cited as culpable.
On March 6, 2012, Geir’s trial began. The trial, which lasted until April 23 of that year, featured numerous witnesses coming to testify, including former Central Bank chairperson and current Morgunblaðið editor Davíð Oddsson. Geir maintained – as he has since charges were first levied against him – that his government could not have foreseen the 2008 economic collapse, nor did it have any idea that the banks’ assets were so over-leveraged. “Nobody predicted that there would be a financial collapse in Iceland” in 2008, he said.
Geir would ultimately be found guilty of one of the four charges of negligence levied against him. Specifically, the charge was that he either knew or should have known that he had to respond in some way to the information he had been receiving that the economy was unstable. Prosecutor Sigríður Friðjónsdóttir concluded her final arguments by saying that when it comes to the personal responsibility of a government minister, the law is clear. Geir had many opportunities to step in and prevent disaster, she said, all of which he chose to ignore. Andri Árnason, Geir’s defence attorney, argued on the other hand that many matters were kept deliberately hidden from Geir until it was too late, if they were revealed at all.
However, the court did not give Geir a sentence for the charge, and ruled that the Icelandic government would pay for his legal expenses, which totalled 24 million ISK.
Since then, Geir moved on to get a job as an “international affairs consultant” for the law offices of Opus. Last December, he appealed his case to the European Human Rights Court. They have yet to make a ruling.