Fairly meaty news day today.
First, the EU has declared that Iceland is fit to join their club provided we tweak our policies and administrative structure a bit. If we do, they will kindly allow us to discuss potential accession. They have a few, um, criticisms about how things are done here. [I’m shocked!]
First of all, they would like to see the Icelandic courts made more independent than they currently are, in particular by ensuring that a political minister cannot appoint judges. [People, this is very good news, so score one point for the EU.] The judicial system in this country is so inextricably intertwined with the mafia that has ruled here the last several decades that it’s scary. In fact just a few years ago a justice minister for the Independence Party appointed Davíð Oddsson’s son a district court judge, even though he was less qualified than other candidates. Need I say more?
They also insist that Iceland adapt its legal environment to that of the EU in the fields of fishing, agriculture, settlement and environmental matters, free flow of capital and financial services. Among other things.
Anyone up for some bedtime reading about the EU’s stance on Iceland can download their report here.
SPECIAL INVESTIGATION INTO THE COLLAPSE
Justice Minister Ragna Árnadóttir revealed today that a total of 120 170 people have been interrogated in connection with the bank collapse, and 40-50 of them are being treated as suspects. The Office of the Special Investigator has conducted 50 raids on premises in Iceland, the UK and Luxembourg.
Indeed, the raids in Luxembourg a couple of weeks ago went on for four or five days, sometimes well into the night. Icelandic investigators were assisted by the Luxembourgian police. Apparently there are very strict laws about this sort of thing in Lux and only ONCE before has a special exception been made to allow an investigation of this scope to take place. That was in the Bernie Madoff affair. You can draw your own conclusions from that one.
Anyway, it’s good to know they’re not just sitting on their butts doing nothing.
FRÉTTABLAÐIÐ EDITOR FIRED
Jón Kaldal, who has been editor of Fréttablaðið for a number of years, was unexpectedly sacked this morning. Ólafur Stephensen was hired in his place. Ólafur was previously editor of Morgunblaðið, until he was ousted in favour of everyone’s favourite chump, Davíð Oddsson.
Still not sure what to make of that one, but keep firmly in mind that Fréttablaðið is still owned by one of the oligarchs – Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson. Ólafur has announced that he will be placing greater emphasis on news analyses and a paper that sides with the “little people” as consumers and taxpayers. Unsurprisingly this is kind of like the image that Jón Ásgeir and especially his father Jóhannes Jónsson have always striven to present through Bónus – the discount supermarket they launched here just over 20 years ago and which, for a time, made them into national heroes.
Egill Helgason speculates that perhaps it’s just that Fréttablaðið lacks character as it is first and foremost an advertising medium, and this is an effort to shake things up a bit. Can’t say I buy that one. The “little man” reference rings my alarm bells – I think this a careful ploy to prop up JÁJ and JJ’s image. That said, Ólafur Stephensen is an excellent journalist and did good things over at Morgunblather, and he’s always seemed to me a man of integrity. But then again, no doubt he needs to work for a living like the rest of us, and can be recruited at a price.