Landsdómur trial: last day of testimony

Witness testimony in the Landsdómur court case against the former Icelandic PM came to an end yesterday. 40 witnesses have been called throughout the case.

The final witness yesterday was current commerce, trade, fisheries and agriculture minister, and leader of the Left Green Movement, Steingrímur J. Sigfússon. He was in opposition when Geir H. Haarde was Prime Minister during the banking crash. Steingrímur reiterated to the court what he has said publicly since the crash: that he saw a danger of a banking crisis in Iceland several years before it happened, but that his warnings fell upon deaf ears.

Árni M. Mathiesen, who was Geir Haarde’s finance minister, told the court that financial and banking matters were regularly discussed at cabinet meetings. His comments directly aimed at the charge against Geir that he neglected to discuss important matters with other ministers. He said that it was the opinion of the entire cabinet before the crash that the size of the banks needed to be reduced, and that he and Geir had discussed the matter with bank executives.

Árni said he does not feel the charges of negligence against Geir hold water and that he sees no way the court will be able to pin guilt upon him — adding that government action against the banks would have been needed all the way back in 2003 in order to prevent their demise. Árni’s testimony was similar in content to that of other ministers within Geir’s cabinet.

Steingrímur J. Sigfússon said that he had seen the crash coming since 2005 but government, the media and public institutions were not ready to listen. Asked in court if there was anything Geir or his government could have done in 2008 to prevent the crash, he said it is now hard to tell.

Steingrímur was the last witness of the trial, but following him Geir Haarde was called back to the stand to explain and clarify certain things. He told the court that there had, in fact, been no shortage of talks and plans for possible courses of action. It was, on the other hand, simply not possible to do all that needed to be done.

The court will reconvene on Thursdayat 13.00 to hear the Alþingi prosecutor’s final summing up.