Icelandic prison escapee Sindri Þór Stefánsson is still being held in Holland, but is likely to return to Iceland within the next three weeks. Sindri testified in Dutch court today, saying that he had always been free to go and was neither in hiding nor on the run at the time he left prison.
Vísir contacted Sindri’s court appointed defense attorney, Michiel Kuyp, shortly after Sindri appeared in court.
“[Sindri] told the judge that he had been free to travel wherever he wanted when he left Iceland,” Michiel said. “The police in Iceland had told him that he couldn’t leave, but there was no court order to hold him in custody and longer. He said that he didn’t flee or try to hide. Sindri said he wanted to tell people what the police had done to him, and that’s why he went to Holland. He said that now that he’s given his side of the story, he’s ready to come back to Iceland.”
As Sindri has been ordered by the court to spend 19 days is custody in Holland, Michiel expects Sindri will return to Iceland within 20 days.
As reported, it has come to light that the police had no legal authority to hold Sindri – who was not convicted of a crime, but was only being held as a suspect in a computer heist case – in the first place.
The crux of the matter rests on Iceland’s laws about holding suspects in custody. Sindri’s period of custody actually expired April 16. Earlier that day, Sindri appeared in court where the judge had said they would take 24 hours to decide whether or not to extend the period of Sindri’s custody.
While police contend that this effectively means he was still in custody, Kristín Benediktsdóttir, an associate professor in judicial procedure at the law department of the University of Iceland, says that Iceland’s constitution is very clear on the matter: you cannot hold someone in custody without legal permission to do so.
Here she refers specifically to a Supreme Court case from 2013. In that instance, a suspect was brought to court ten minutes before his period of custody expired. The judge in that instance also took a 24-hour period to decide whether or not to extend the period of custody.
The Supreme Court decided in that case that the police had no legal authority to hold the suspect while the judge made their decision, and the suspect was therefore unlawfully held in custody by the police during that 24-hour period.