Former Iceland PM goes on trial for responsibility in 2008 crash


Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Former Icelandic Prime Minister Geir Haarde has appeared at a special court on charges of “failures of ministerial responsibility” in his handling of the 2008 financial crisis.

The country’s three main banks collapsed amid economic turmoil.

The failure of Icesave, which hit thousands of savers in the UK and Netherlands, led to a dispute over compensation, which remains unresolved…

The two-hour hearing finished at midday, and a decision is expected within three weeks.

Mr Haarde, who pleaded not guilty, said as he left the courthouse: “My conscience is clear. And now I wait for the result of the court whether it comes in a few weeks or next year with a verdict.”

The hearing was held before the Landsdomur court, a special body to try cabinet ministers, which has never before heard a case.

Public opinion is divided, with some people seeing the trial of Mr Haarde as scapegoating, and others arguing that public accountability is essential following the country’s financial collapse.

Iceland was plunged into a deep recession following the collapse of its three leading banks, including Icesave’s parent company Landsbanki, in autumn 2008.

Mr Haarde, 60, led the Independence Party government at the time…

The charges carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

One would expect the defendant in any trial as serious as this to protest its worthiness to be heard. Yet there is sufficient respect for law and justice to have it proceed, treated as a legal proceeding should be dealt with.

Imagine what the carnival would be like if Congress in Obama’s first months had attempted to indict and try Bush – whether for his criminal invasion of Iraq or culpability in the deliberate slacking of regulation and oversight by his administration leading up to the Great Recession.

Clinton’s impeachment for being silly and stupid about sex was rococo enough. Bush accepting, his Oil Patch handlers accepting – the right of the nation to put his incompetence and corruption on trial would still be going on – with no end in sight.

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