From Iceland — Lawyer Commits Murder, Gets "Professional Reputation" Restored

Lawyer Commits Murder, Gets “Professional Reputation” Restored

Published January 19, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Rutepwiki/Wikimedia Commons

A lawyer who murdered a former business associate and went to prison has been granted restoration of his “professional reputation”, and wants the right to practice law again. The family of the man he killed have vowed to never forgive him.

Atli Helgason was found guilty of homicide 15 years ago and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. The case was high-profile, given the nature of the crime, which included Atli taking part in the search for the victim, Einar Örn Birgisson. The search party also included members of Einar’s own family. The case was so widely publicised that the crime was even incorporated in the lyrics and video for a song by local rap group XXX Rottweiler Hundar.

Atli was released in 2010, and has since been working to have his professional reputation restored (Icel. “uppreist æru”). A professional reputation, in this context, has more of a legal meaning than a literal one. Having a clean professional reputation is a requirement for some types of public office, and for being a trial lawyer, to name two examples.

RÚV reports that Atli filed a request to clear his professional reputation with Reykjavík District Court, and that request has been fulfilled.

Legal expert Hulda María Stefánsdóttir explained that one can have their professional reputation restored, even for serious crimes such as Atli’s, provided they fulfill certain requirements. If, for example, one is released from prison and waits five years before filing the request, their professional reputation is automatically restored.

Birgir Örn Birgisson, the father of Einar, told Vísir that the restoration has shocked and angered the entire family.

“[Atli] has never shown us any remorse for his actions,” Birgir said. “We’ve never heard from him. This is like a wet towel to the face.”

Birgir said the family is now deciding whether or not to contact the Icelandic Bar Association and see if they can prevent the association from issuing Atli official support.

“We are naturally not going to take this lying down,” Birgir said.

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