FORMER Iceland Prime Minister Geir Haarde, the only politician to have been tried over the global financial crisis, was yesterday found guilty of only the most minor of four charges of negligence.
The 61-year-old was convicted of failing to hold dedicated cabinet meetings ahead of the 2008 economic collapse – a charge which does not carry a prison sentence – but was found innocent of three major charges, including neglecting to deal with an overblown banking sector. The former leader could have faced up to two years in jail if he were convicted of the more serious counts.
Haarde himself criticised the special court’s mixed verdict, claiming that judges had only found him guilty of one count to appease Icelanders’ anger at the politicians who allowed the country’s banking system to grow to ten times Iceland’s GDP before the meltdown.
“It is obvious that the majority of the judges have found themselves pressed to come up with a guilty verdict on one point, however minor, to save the neck of the parliamentarians who instigated this,” said Haarde.
Meanwhile, others criticised the fact that only Haarde was put on the stand.
“He was the captain on the bridge, but there were more ministers,” said local pensioner Arni Einarsson. “Politicians thought that Iceland was like the Titanic, unsinkable. They were not on their guard.”