From Iceland — Trial Of Icelandic Deportation Protesters Begins

Trial Of Icelandic Deportation Protesters Begins

Published March 7, 2019

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Andie Fontaine

The trial of two Icelanders who attempted to stop the deportation of an asylum seeker on board an Icelandair flight has begun, but questions have been raised about how prosecutors have handled the case, and an inconsistency in whether or not Icelandair files charges against people who misbehave on their flights has not gone unnoticed.

The trial of Ragnheiður Freyja Kristínardóttir and Jórunn Edda Helgadóttir, two Icelanders who attempted to stop the deportation of a refugee on board an Icelandair plane in May 2016, began yesterday.

Páll Bergþórsson, a lawyer for the two, told Stundin that he considered it strange that the only witnesses the prosecution plans to call forward to testify are all employees of Icelandair; four flight attendants and three pilots. Furthermore, he says that the defence was not initially granted access to hear the statements that the witnesses for the prosecution made for the police. When the defence was at last granted permission, Páll says, the recordings revealed what he contends were leading questions; that they were repeatedly asked by police if Ragnheiður and Jórunn threatened the security of the flight.

For the record, the plane was sitting motionless on the tarmac when the two stood up and refused to sit down again, as they informed passengers that on board the flight was an asylum seeker being deported under questionable circumstances. They were soon after arrested, arraigned, and charged. By contrast, an Icelandair passenger who, in 2013, shouted at and spat upon other passengers in a drunken rage to the point that he needed to be restrained was never charged with any wrongdoing.

“We do think that it’s definitely relevant that there was this unlawful, irreversible action that the police executed on behalf of the Directorate of Immigration,” Jórunn told the Grapevine last October. “Our actions were very minimal in comparison to the possible effect that the actions of the authorities could have on the life of the refugee in question.”

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