Iceland in Disarray Over Pedophile Scandal but Otherwise ‘Winning in Many Ways’

Friday, September 15, 2017
By Paul Martin

A scandal involving a convicted child rapist’s links to Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson has triggered the collapse of Iceland’s ruling coalition.

Iceland has been thrown into deep political turmoil after the Bright Future party announced on Friday, September 15 it is withdrawing from the three-party (Independence Party, Bright Future Party, Reform Party) coalition which has only been in office for nine months.

Party leaders took the dramatic decision to quit the center-right government after it emerged Mr. Benediktsson’s father had written a letter recommending a convicted pedophile’s name be cleared.

Under Icelandic law convicts can have their “honor restored” and criminal records wiped, provided they receive two letters of recommendation.

Now it has been revealed that the PM’s father Benedikt Sveinsson provided secret backing for Hjalti Sigurjon Hauksson who was convicted of raping his stepdaughter almost every day for 12 years.

Mr. Benediktsson was made aware of this in July but his government initially refused to reveal the identity of the backer, leading to accusations of an attempted cover up. Ottarr Proppe, party leader of Bright Future, said this was a “serious breach of trust.”

“That goes against our policies here at Bright Future on transparency and a good way of working,” he said.

Magnus Sveinn Helgason, managing editor of Iceland Magazine, told Sputnik the affair could eventually result in a major shake-up of the political scene in Iceland.

“The prime minister has said nothing, so far, of his intentions. He may try to continue or he could decide to call an election, we don’t know. Ironically it comes at a time when our economy is doing great, having grown by 7.4 percent this year, and unemployment is just one percent. But while we are winning in many ways, the government is rocked by another scandal. It is all extremely strange.”

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