Iceland’s best known prison escapee will be returning to our fair shores tomorrow.
Police in Suðurnes, southwest Iceland, will have to take a decision tomorrow as to whether to put Sindri in custody in his home country or just place a travel ban on him. Þorgil Þorgilsson, Sindri’s lawyer, told reporters he believes a travel ban would be “the best resort”.
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 at Sogn Prison 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.