This past Friday, Reykjavík District Court ruled that the Icelandic state and Árni Mathiesen, former Minister of Finance for the Independence Party, should pay ISK 3 million in compensation to an applicant for the position of district court judge in North Iceland back in 2005.
The applicant, Guðmundur Kristjánsson, was deemed the most qualified for the position by an evaluation committee. However, Árni Mathiesen, acting on behalf of Björn Bjarnason, who was Minister of Justice at the time, appointed a less qualified candidate, Þorsteinn Davíðsson, to the post.
Þorsteinn happens to be the son of Davíð Oddsson, a.k.a King Davíð of Iceland.
The court is unusually harsh in its ruling. It states that Árni Mathiesen, being trained as a veterinarian, did not have the necessary knowledge or qualifications to overrule the committee’s recommendations. Neither did he call for any additional documentation or specialist information that might have helped him make an informed decision.
[In other words, Árni Mathiesen simply did as he was told by his pals in the Independence Party.]
It is particularly unusual that the ruling specifically states that Árni Mathiesen should personally bear the cost of the compensation. However, it is considered unlikely that he will have to since the Icelandic state bears responsibility for the actions of cabinet ministers. In other words, it comes out of our [taxpayers’] pockets.
But hey, at least it’s a baby step in the right direction in uprooting the weeds of corruption and nepotism that have choked everything around here for years.
UPDATE: As Sverrir points out in the comments below, I omitted a few details in the post as I was not able to verify the exact nature of the relationship between Þorsteinn Davíðsson and Björn Bjarnason. Sverrir writes:
Your post does not mention, that Mr. Thorsteinn Davidsson, son of former mayer, prime minister, central bank governor and now Morgunbladid editor David Oddsson, was also the personal political assistant of Mr. Bjorn Bjarnason, then minister of justice, for whom Mr. Arni Mathiesen stepped in for a few hours as substitute minister of justice, where Mr. Arni took the decision of hiring Mr. Thorsteinn as judge, in favor of much more qualified canditates. Mr. Bjornsson could not take this decision as Mr. Thorsteinn was his assistant, so Mr. Arni was called in…
Mentioned herewith! Thank you Sverrir.
Incidentally, a big Thank You to everyone who offered suggestions for our song party, which was last night. I promised to say which song was the first one that came into my mind, and also which one I chose. The answer is in the comments below the post in question.