Two men suspected of torturing and raping women in a Reykjavík apartment have been released from police custody, and have since left Iceland. Many Icelanders on social media are expressing anger and confusion over the matter, but the police maintain there was no need to keep the suspects in custody.
Vísir reports that an apartment in the Hlíðar neighbourhood of Reykjavík was used by two men to rape and torture women on at least two occasions. The survivors are reportedly university students, at least one of whom went to Reykjavík University, where one of the attackers is also a student.
Charges were filed against the two, and police arrested the suspects and searched the apartment. However, Stundin reports that the police released the two from custody, saying they felt there was no need to keep them under lock and key.
“They were in custody for about 24 hours,” Árni Þór Sigmundsson, chief of the sex crimes division of the Capital Area Police, told reporters. “We have all the evidence before us. So there was not considered any need to keep them in custody.” He added that it did not “serve the public interests” to keep the suspects in custody.
The decision sparked anger and confusion across Icelandic social media, along with the creation of the hashtag #almannahagsmunir (“#thepublicinterests”). The names and photos of the suspects have been spreading like wildfire and, using social media, Icelanders were able to track the two to Keflavík International Airport. They have both reportedly left the country.
Icelanders are taking their grievances directly to the police, especially through Twitter:
Hérna ef tveir menn hefðu frelsissvipt tvo gæja á tveimur vikum og handrukkað þá, þá væru þeir í gæsluvarðhaldi right?
— Halldór Halldórsson (@DNADORI) November 9, 2015
“If two men had held two guys hostage for two weeks and robbed them, they’d be in custody now, right?”
Gott og vel @logreglan. Við hin höldum þá bara áfram að tjá okkur og reka umrætt mál á opinberum vettvangi þangað til eitthvað gerist.
— Bragi Valdimar (@BragiValdimar) November 9, 2015
“Very well, police. The rest of us will keep expressing ourselves and conduct a public conversation until something happens.”
Má ég minna á að í sumar var HIV-smitaður nígerískur hælisleitandi úrskurðaður í gæsluvarðhald í mánuð. #almannahagsmunir
— ♀Hildur Lilliendahl♀ (@hillldur) November 9, 2015
“Might I remind you that last summer, an HIV+ Nigerian was held in custody for about a month.”
Police have told RÚV that they intend to re-examine the case, to see if any mistakes have been made, but sources within the police say they consider it unlikely that a court would have approved custody for the two suspects.
As such, a protest demonstration has been called for to take place at capital police headquarters, next to Hlemmur, at 17:00 today. Over 2,000 Icelanders have pledged attendance at the time of this writing.