From Iceland — Murder Trial Against Gunnar Jóhann Begins Today

Murder Trial Against Gunnar Jóhann Begins Today

Published September 21, 2020

Catherine Magnúsdóttir
Photo by
Wikimedia Commons / Rünno

Today begins the trial of Gunnar Jóhann Gunnarsson, who is accused of having shot his half-brother, Gísli Þór Þórarinsson, in the small Norwegian town of Mehamn in April last year.

According to RÚV, the two Icelandic men had been living in Mehamn, a small community of about 800 people, approximately 30 of them Icelandic. Both men had been involved in the local fishing industry.

In April of last year, Gunnar Jóhann reportedly learned that his half-brother had entered into a relationship with his ex-wife, causing a strife which led to threats from Gunnar’s side and a restraining order against him. According to a report by RÚV, Norwegian police stated that Gunnar had been kept in an institution days before the murder. They had reportedly also intended to arrest Gunnar, based on his threats against his half-brother and ex-wife, but were consulted by a lawyer that it would not have been properly justifiable.

Accoring to Norwegian news outlet NRK, Gunnar Jóhann already had a criminal record in Iceland for both rape and aggravated violence.

According to Vísir, the indictment states that Gunnar Jóhann went to his half-brother’s house in late April of last year, armed with a shotgun. In an ensuing fight over the weapon, two shots are said to have been fired, one of them striking Gísli Þór through an artery in his left thigh and causing him to bleed out.

Gunnar Jóhann denies that he shot his half-brother intentionally and says that the shots went off by accident. NRK reports that according to his lawyer, Bjørn André Gulstad, he will deny criminal guilt when the trial officially begins.

GUnnar Jóhann’s trial had been postponed two times previously. In December it was postponed because the prosecution had not been given the opportunity to review all the evidence in the case, and again in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to RÚV, the case is pending before the District Court of East Finnmark in Vadsø. According to prosecutors in the case, 25 witnesses will be called and the hearing is expected to end on Tuesday September 29th.

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