The Icelandic Six case - how to serve a sentence for a murder that never happened

Iceland is a country with a very low crime rate. It's hard to believe, but in a quarter of a century, only 30 murders occurred on this Atlantic island. In the 70s, everything was even better and serious crimes were not even committed every year. The most common crime here is vehicle theft. And even then, most of these cases are associated with the desire to just go for a ride, because it’s not possible to leave the island by car. But there were also mysterious cases in the history of the Country of Geysers. One of them went down in history as the Icelandic Six case.

The Icelandic Six case - how to serve a sentence for a murder that never happened

The hippie era began belatedly in Iceland - in the early 70s. The generation of young and daring rebels on the island was no different from their counterparts from the mainland. Gunmundur Einarsson, an 18-year-old handyman from Reykjavik, belonged to just such a youth.

The Icelandic Six case - how to serve a sentence for a murder that never happened

On January 27, 1974, the guy went to see friends for a party, after which the whole company moved to the town of Hafnarfjörður, 10 km from the capital. There the youth continued to have a blast with alcohol and drugs. In the midst of the fun, Einarsson disappeared somewhere. Friends found out that he went home with some acquaintance whom he met at the club.

It later turned out that Gunmundur never made it to Reykjavik. Iceland has harsh nature, so the people search service there is well organized. Specialists from this country are often invited to search in different parts of the world. In addition to the state system, there is also a volunteer organization, the Search and Rescue Association, which includes thousands of people. Therefore, everyone hoped that the guy would be found quickly.

For lost tourists, shelters have been organized throughout the island, where they have everything they need, from clothing and food to medicine. The most modern equipment, including aviation, will be used in search operations. Needless to say, the search for the missing young man was organized at the highest level.

The Icelandic Six case - how to serve a sentence for a murder that never happened

The police established that Gunmundur and his companion were trying to catch a passing car. But since the guys were drunk, no one wanted to take them. So they decided to walk. They could have followed the road, but most likely decided to take a shortcut through the lava fields. This decision cost the lives of more than one traveler in winter. Deep cracks in the lava, hidden under the snow, pose a mortal danger.

Search teams carefully checked all the routes that Einarsson could have used. But neither his body nor even traces could be found. After the time required by law, the operation was completed, and the young man was declared missing. There was no talk about his companion, since no one knew exactly who was with Gunmundur and whether this person went with him. Moreover, no one reported the disappearance of another man.

The story of Gunmundur Einarsson could be another mystery with the disappearances that Iceland is rich in due to the peculiarities of the landscape and climate. But in January of the same 1974, another incident occurred that the police connected with the case of the missing guy.

The Icelandic Six case - how to serve a sentence for a murder that never happened

In 1975, two people came to the attention of the police. They were 20-year-old Erla Bolladottir and her boyfriend Saivar Ciesielski. Saivar was at odds with the law. He has already been caught in financial fraud and drug trafficking. This time he did something more serious.

Together with Erla, Ciesielski developed a complex fraud scheme. Using forged postal orders and counterfeit bank checks, the couple was able to receive about a million crowns, which at the exchange rate of those years is approximately 10 thousand dollars. Saivar was arrested first, and then Erla. The girl was so frightened that she herself decided to tell everything she knew about the crime.

The Icelandic Six case - how to serve a sentence for a murder that never happened

During one of the interrogations, the investigator showed the girl a photo of the missing Gunmundur Einarsson. When asked if she knew him, Erla replied that she saw him at a classmate’s party. After some time she began to cry and told a very strange story.

On the day Einarsson disappeared, she came home late in the evening. Bolladottir could not fall asleep for a long time, and when she did, she was awakened by male voices. Under her windows, Saivar and his friends Christian Vidarsson and Trygve Leifsson were talking animatedly. Already in the morning she saw the trio carrying some long object wrapped in burlap. The police realized that they were finally on the trail.

The Icelandic Six case - how to serve a sentence for a murder that never happened

Wanting to get as much information as possible, Erla was interrogated for 9 days. The girl had a newborn daughter waiting at home and she was very nervous. This led to the fact that she stopped distinguishing reality from fiction and told what the investigators wanted to hear from her.

Thanks to Erla Bolladottir's testimony, four more people were arrested. They all gave confessions, although they differed in some details. The main plot line of this story was proposed by the police and all that remained was to tailor the stories of the suspects to it.

The Icelandic Six case - how to serve a sentence for a murder that never happened

The situation was paradoxical. The police did not have a single piece of evidence or even a body. But there were confessions given by six detainees. Yes, they were contradictory, but this was not taken into account. Members of the Icelandic Six were tried and sentenced to various prison terms.

Erla Bolladottir received 3 years, one of the guys who helped hide the body received 15 months. Saivar Ciesielski and Christian Vidarsson were sentenced to life in prison. The rest received lighter sentences. In 1980, the Supreme Court of Iceland reviewed the case and the terms were changed. Tsiselsky spent the longest of all, 8 years, in prison.

The Icelandic Six case - how to serve a sentence for a murder that never happened

Upon his release, Saivar Tsiselsky began to fight for the restoration of justice and complete acquittal. He put in a lot of effort, but was not successful. Some time later, the daughter of one of the members of the Icelandic Six found her father's diary. He kept it in prison, recording his thoughts. The diary was added to the case file, which was reviewed again.

A new investigation has concluded that the Icelandic Six are innocent, and that the murder case of Gunmundur Einarsson has literally been made out of thin air. In 2017, all defendants in the case were found innocent. But why did all these people confess?

The Icelandic Six case - how to serve a sentence for a murder that never happened

It turned out that they all suffered from the so-called memory distrust syndrome. It lies in the fact that a person does not trust himself so much that, under the influence of external factors, his mind begins to create false memories. As for the unfortunate Gunmundur Einarsson, his fate is still unknown.

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