Summing up at former Iceland PM negligence trial

Yesterday and today are the final days of the Landsdómur trial against former Icelandic PM Geir H. Haarde. The prosecution summed up yesterday and the defence is doing so today.

Sigríður J. Friðjónsdóttir, the Alþingi prosecutor, spoke for three hours and told the court yesterday that Geir should be found guilty. Among her arguments, she read from parliamentary documents from 1919, 1942 and 1944 to explain the development of the principle that the Prime Minister is required to call cabinet meetings to discuss particularly pressing matters. She read the documents as proof that the requirement is still in effect; and comparing it to notes from 2008; saying that very little had been discussed about the impending crisis. She especially mentioned the so-called Glitnir Weekend, when the government took over 75 percent of the struggling bank, as proof that the government did not discuss important matters enough. She blames Geir Haarde for not calling essential meetings with his ministers.

Andri Árnason, Geir’s defence, said today that even at the end of the trial Sigríður’s charges are unclear and that Geir should be declared innocent and all legal fees paid by the state.

He said that many of the charges laid against Geir do not come under the job description of a prime minister anyway. On the oft-repeated claim that Geir should have done more to reduce the size of the banks; Andri said that there is widespread imbalances in the Icelandic economy; but that does not mean industries should reasonably be expected to shrink. There is the risk that a worm could infect Icelandic fish; meaning foreign markets no longer want to buy it. Does that mean the size of the fishing industry should be reduced now just in case? He asked the same of the aluminium industry: the world price of aluminium could theoretically crumble; but does that mean the government should close down a couple of smelters in anticipation?

Andri’s summing up continues this afternoon.

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