Of the many things former Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson is known for, he was a big fan of Abu Dhabi. He had visited the United Arab Emirates capital on many occasions, and enjoyed many gifts from them. Among these gifts, Vísir reports, was a pair of Caracal F 9mm handguns.
These guns were brought directly to Iceland by a courier for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2011. Sealed in a diplomatic attaché case, they made it into the country unchecked by customs on account of the privilege conferred upon diplomatic deliveries.
As readers may be aware, Iceland has very strict regulations about the ownership of handguns. Permits for them are only issued to individuals for “recreation purposes” and, in fact, importing guns is strictly prohibited.
Nonetheless, the Office of the Presidency accepted the gift, but registered them with the caretaker of the office, Júlíus Einarsson, who used to be a police officer and therefore had some experience with handguns. Years later, Júlíus would file a suit against the Office of the Presidency for back wages, which he inevitably won. However, before the matter reached court, the Office decided to transfer these guns from being owned by the Icelandic government to the ownership of Júlíus as a means of restitution.
Presidential Secretary Örnólfur Thorsson would not confirm this story for reporters, but sources close to Fréttablaðið have confirmed its veracity. As such, we can only deduce that guns that were brought into the country under diplomatic auspices, despite strict Icelandic laws on handguns, are still in the country and now owned by a private citizen.
As to whether or not the former President broke the law, Article 30 of the Icelandic Constitution says, “The President, or other governmental authorities entrusted by the President, grants exemptions from laws in accordance with established practice.” That being the case, the former President may be exempt from having to abide Iceland’s gun laws.
To our knowledge, no other guns have been brought into Iceland under cover of diplomatic privilege.
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