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Score one for New Iceland!

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.

Comments

comments

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Marc April 25, 2010, 10:51 pm

    Glad to hear some things are improving.

  • Max April 25, 2010, 11:13 pm

    I think the following sums up my current feelings vis-à-vis la situation:

    Það reddast, með tíð og tíma.

  • Kris April 26, 2010, 1:51 am

    You need to run these people out of town. Don’t settle for fake justice. If you know its illegal, then they know its illegal. Its all hat and no cattle. Demand their heads. Spit on them when you see them in the streets. Throw rocks.
    Kris

  • kevin oconnor,waterford ireland April 26, 2010, 9:26 am

    €17,647 compensation not much for being denied top job with trimmings etc, mind you if anyone would care to give that to me I would be very happy, I could waste it on good holiday to Iceland for instance ha ha . Also I would like to say sorry to Iceland about the ash cloud from that volcano of the many vowels and consonant’s as apparently it was all a figment of the European deluded imagination, shame about those millions trapped in various airports round the globe, total cost in excess of the Icesave trifle, what the heck live and learn eh.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1268794/Remember-ash-cloud-It-didnt-exist-says-new-evidence.html

  • Michael Lewis April 26, 2010, 9:54 am

    “Applicant for the position of district court judge …” – that is disgraceful. I could understand (slightly) if it was a case of helping out a friend, by employing a graduate to some bottom of the rung job – frankly that happens in every country. But to a position of district court judge ! Its a bitter pill for Icelanders, who it seems, are stumping up for systemic fraud: I wouldn’t blame any new government if they just said ‘this is fraud, sorry, we’re not paying for it’.

    “…. suggestions for our song party, which was last night. The answer is in the comments below the post in question.”

    Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Good choice! My wife had this song played at our wedding reception, it was held out in the Waitakere Ranges nr. Auckland, great place, if you ever get the chance to visit NZ.

  • Sverrir April 26, 2010, 11:06 am

    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…

  • alda April 26, 2010, 11:22 am

    Sverrir – Takk fyrir þetta. I knew there was a personal involvement with Björn Bjarnason but could not verify the exact nature of it while writing the post last night. This shall be added to the post forthwith.

  • jpeeps April 26, 2010, 12:46 pm

    Well I wouldn’t get too upset about the Icelandic taxpayer having in the end to foot this bill. It’s a small price to pay – relish instead the fact that this judgment goes so close to the heart of a decade of corruption in a highly personal way. Doddsson the father, and the son who went along with it, are shown up for what they are, corrupt, entitlement-seeking bully boys who have yet to smell the coffee. I can’t wait to hear how Dodds senior mounts his defence to this takedown in the media.

  • Sigvaldi Eggertsson April 26, 2010, 1:45 pm

    Árni and his lawyer have decided to appeal the case to the Supreme court, now who are the members of the Supreme court again?

  • Rik Hardy April 26, 2010, 6:25 pm

    It’s going to take persistent hard work to put a stop to this.
    The Independence Party is just waiting for people to get bored so that they can build up another “empire” like their old one – behind people’s backs.
    Stay awake, folks – and tell Eva Joly if you know of anything creepy going on, and you can bet your last dollar that it IS going on right now.
    A good start would be demanding a referendum on whether it is in the public interest to have a rejected top politician appointing himself chief editor of the country’s main newspaper.
    Public interest = us, by the way.

  • Sigvaldi Eggertsson April 26, 2010, 9:08 pm

    Rik, the Morgunblaðið is a private company and how badly it is run is none of our business, it is not as we still read it, is it?
    And the politican in question did not appoint himself, he was hired by the owners of the newspaper who are free to make as silly decisions as they like.
    It has got nothing to do with public interest.

  • Joerg April 26, 2010, 10:44 pm

    The amount of plainly visible nepotism and cronyism is always mind-boggling. It would have been bad enough without this charade on top.  

  • Rik Hardy April 27, 2010, 12:40 am

    Sigvaldi, yours is certainly the correct version of events.
    My version simply addresses the important stuff under the surface, such as:

    a) I believe it SHOULD concern us who is at the editorial head of Morgunblaðið, since that paper could be said to represent the public face of Iceland to the rest of the world, whether Icelanders still read it or not.

    b) Doddson’s apparent acceptance by many as the queen bee of his party means that he is aware of the preferential treatment he is likely to get in certain circumstances, and being in positions of prominence is clearly important to him.
    Presumably the appointment of his son to a position of prominence was also important to him, and thus are corrupt societies established and nourished.

    My comments only sought to encourage people to stay awake and not to accept a corrupt status quo as if it were automatically acceptable. It isn’t.