State Repression in Iceland: Nine People Taken to Court With Serious Accusations

One of the accused and a policeman on the parliament balcony

The legal aftermaths of Iceland’s last winter revolt are now being determined. Nine individuals - including several anarchists - have been accused of breaking several laws, including one, which violation is supposed to be punished with a minimum one year’s jail sentence, maximum lifetime. The court case was originally set in February and heavily responded to by a lot of people, but was dismissed because of family relations between the state prosecutor and one of the parliament’s security guards. The filing of the case took place Thursday March 11th and will be continued Friday April 9th.

“Attacking” the Parliament
The accusations center upon an event that took place December 8th, 2008 where c.a. 30 people entered the parliament, planning to go up to a balcony where people are, according to Icelandic laws, allowed to stay and watch general parliament meetings. When the people came into the parliament they were met with the building’s security guards who instantly tried to prevent the people from entering. Most of the people managed to get to the stairs that lead up to the balcony, but were again met with security guards, and this time also a police officer who threatened them with pepper spray. At this point the crowd was stuck in the staircase, surrounded by security guards and policemen, but two individuals got to the balcony where they shouted at the Members of Parliament to "fuck off and get out of the building". A policeman from the parliament threw them out and down the staircase, on top of each other.

From this point the police became even more aggressive then before and made repeated attempts to push the people upper in the stair on those who stood lower. There was no way for the people to get out at this point since all possible entrances were closed. The police noted down some names and social security numbers, while arresting few people for uncertain reasons. After a while people were allowed to leave the building, which at this point was surrounded by media, random by-passers and the protester’s supporters. Outside, few other people were arrested for de-arresting attempts and disobeying police orders. Most people were released later that evening.

This event received a vast media attention since it is not everyday that conflicts take place inside the parliament. It was also only the beginning sign of a public uprising that continued to grow throughout the winter, reaching it climax in January 2009. Then, thousands of people took to the streets of Reykjavík, stopped the parliament from coming together after christmas vacation, lit fires, banged pots and pans, attacked politicians, policemen and the society’s most important institutions, and in the end toppled the government.

Fingerprints and Personal Acts of Revenge
In January that same year, eleven people were brought to the police station and interviewed because of the so-called “attack” on the parliament. Ten of them had actually been inside the building but the eleventh person was only known by the police as a “protester”, which was a reason enough for them to interview him. After being interviewed, the people were brought to the basement of the police station were they were forced to give their fingerprints as well as being measured, weighted and photographed. Asked for a written permission, the police refused and said this was a part of the “normal procedure”. A lawyer who is now defending some of the accused says that this can only have been act of revenge, based on police officers’ personal opinions on the people.

Of the ten people interviewed and who actually were inside the parliament, one of them has not been accused. He works as a nurse aid on a hospital’s emergency center where policemen come all the time and cooperate with the workers. Photos from the parliament’s surveillance cameras also show the faces of many of the other twenty people who also entered the parliament but have not been accused of anything. This clearly shows on what kind of a personal level the accusations are built, where only one third of the people is brought to court.

Minimum One Year’s Prison Sentence
The nine people have all being accused of having broken the same law paragraphs, which are: (1) Having attacked the parliament in a manner that it or its discretion is in considered to be in danger. This paragraph also includes those who call for an attack or comply that call. (2) Having attacked with violence or threats of violence, an official worker doing his or her duties and/or having tried to hinder these duties to be done. (3) A paragraph including that leaders of big groups who have broken the aforementioned paragraph should be punished with a higher sentence. (4) Having stopped a legal meeting from taking place. (5) Housebreaking.

The violation of all these paragraphs is supposed to be punished with prison sentences or fines, many of them with very high maximum sentences. The first mentioned paragraph - the 100th article of the penal laws, which demands at least one years prison sentence - has not been used since 1949 when Iceland’s parliament approved the country’s entry into NATO. Protests turned into riots, where the parliament was attacked with stones and the police and right wing supporters beat up the protesters. Following that, some of the protesters lost their “democratic” rights.

Of course, all the mainstream - and therefor the only - media in Iceland have given extremely one-sided view of the court case and the accusations, claiming all of them to be true. TV news-shows have broadcasted their most action-type footage concerning the case and not made any attempt to talk to any of the accused. Once again the media reveals its true nature: manipulating the truth for the benefits of those in power.

More detailed information about the current situation in Iceland, regarding this particular court case as well as other general information will appear on various international sites in the coming future.

Against all state and police repression!

Solidarity with the Reykjavík Nine!

Please spread this article far and wide. A list of Icelandic embassies around the world can be found by clicking here.

Posted By

Bambus
Mar 11 2010 16:27

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