Court Mitigates Rape Verdict Due To Prior Sexual Relations - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Court Mitigates Rape Verdict Due To Prior Sexual Relations

Published June 2, 2017

Alice Demurtas
Photos by
Art Bicnick

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday to mitigate the sentence of an 18-year-old asylum seeker, who had been found guilty of rape, after it was revealed that he and the victim had engaged in consensual intercourse twice that same night.

As Visir reported in February, the 18-year-old man was initially sentenced to three years imprisonment for raping a 17-year-old girl in 2016. The Supreme Court decided to cut his sentence by one year, after also taking into consideration the young age of the two, who were both minors at the time.

A shaky testimony

According to the girl’s testimony, the two initially exchanged Facebook contacts after meeting on a city bus. Later on, they decided to meet in a hostel in Laugardalur where they had sexual relations. The girl explained to the court that she wasn’t feeling well after intercourse and was ready to get dressed and leave the hostel, but the convicted would not take no for an answer. After assaulting her, the two were driven to Hafnafjörður by a friend of the girl. However, after the boy left the car, the girl burst into tears and told her friend what happened.

Although the girl’s testimony remained the same throughout the investigation, the offender’s testimony changed three times. First, he claimed not to know the girl, then when confronted with their Facebook exchange, he admitted the two had met on the bus, but continued to deny any sexual involvement. Only after his DNA was found on the girl’s underwear, did he admit to having had sexual relations with the girl, but he maintained that it had been consensual.

A dangerous precedent

When asked to justify changing his testimony, he argued that having arrived to Iceland as a refugee only a couple of months prior to the incident he was distrustful of authorities, and had not known anyone he could trust. He explained that due to his past experience he had feared that Icelandic authorities would prove to be as corrupt as in his native country. In addition, he had felt uncomfortable as a Catholic to admit to having had sexual intercourse out of wedlock.

After taking into consideration the girl’s consistent testimony and the evidence provided by other witnesses, the court found the accused guilty and furthermore ordered him to pay 900,000 krónur in damages to the girl’s family.

This is not the first time a sentence has been mitigated due to previous consensual relations. It is a dangerous approach to rape cases, which justifies shifting the blame from the perpetrator to the victim and disregards women’s right to make their own decisions in regard to their sexuality.

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