Published February 3, 2017
This afternoon, the funeral of Birna Brjánsdóttir will be held. Of the two suspects initially arrested in connection with her murder, one was released, and the other is still in custody. Greenlanders are reportedly reluctant to visit Iceland, in fear of reprisals.
Two suspects, both of them crew members of the Greenlandic trawler Polar Nanoq, were arrested in connection with her murder, but one of them was released from custody yesterday. This man’s lawyer told RÚV that he is baffled that his client is still listed as a suspect despite being released. He believes his client should, if no longer considered having played a part in her murder, be considered a witness instead.
The murder has sparked an outpouring of grief from Icelanders, as well as powerful expressions of sympathy across Greenland. Nonetheless, Inga Dóra Markussen, the managing director of the West Nordic Council, told RÚV that Greenlanders are afraid of visiting Iceland at this time, for fear of the response they may be greeted with by Icelanders.
As reported, Birna disappeared from downtown Reykjavík late month. According to sources close to Vísir, crew members of the ship Polar Nanoq rented a red Kia Rio on the weekend of her disappearance, and the ship was docked in Hafnarfjörður during this time. Surveillance footage taken on Laugarvegur on the night of the disappearance shows a red Kia Rio traveling went on Laugavegur at about the same time and place that Birna disappeared.
Her phone continued to produce a signal until at about 5:50 in Hafnarfjörður, near the area of the fire station. Given the distance covered in this short amount of time, it is possible she went to Hafnarfjörður by car. Rescue workers and police extended their search to Hafnarfjörður, and RÚV reports that two black Dr. Martens boots – the same kind Birna was wearing on the night she disappeared – were found near the harbour.
Police have been engaged in an extensive search for Birna ever since, and surveillance camera footage shows her walking east on Laugavegur at about 5:25 Saturday morning. After scanning footage from several cameras along Laugavegur, it appears as though Birna walked no further than Laugavegur 31.
Her body was discovered in south Iceland last week. Investigations are still ongoing.