Some experts say that Iceland was the first modern democratic state. Consequently; Icelanders should appreciate the need to have leaders who are not afraid to exercise their judgment in leading the nation. It is impossible and impractical for the people in a democracy to exercise their collective voice via a plebiscite. This form of pure democracy
does not nor should it exit. Icelandic politicians now govern with the fear that at
some point in the future their actions can be examined by a politically based forum whose purpose is to consider the filing criminal charges. No politician will want to risk criminal prosecution by making unpopular though correct decisions that benefit the people.
No one can seriously question Iceland’s right to hold Mr. Haarde criminally responsible for ministerial incompetence. In 1905 the legislature acted within its power to create the Lardsdomur court. Iceland’s parliament exercised its power to conduct an investigation into the financial meltdown and to take steps to prevent it from happening again.
Recommending criminal prosecution is a logical extension of Parliament’s power to uphold Icelandic law. The fact that the Landsdomur court has never been impaneled does not negate it current relevancy or legality.
Many nations hold their politicians accountable in the same way that Iceland does. The U.S. Congress routinely investigates matters that affect the public’s interests. If Congress deems criminal prosecution is warranted it will make an appropriate referral.
Congress exercised this power when it recommended the criminal prosecution of
baseball legend, Roger Clemens. The appointment of a Independent Counsel to
investigate members of President Clinton’s Administration is a better example of
Congress exercising this power.
Geir Haarde’s trial before the Landsdomur Court is expected to last only a few weeks. Given the issues involved and consequences of any decision, I thought that the trial would have lasted much longer than a matter of weeks. The Court, which consists of Judges specifically appointed to hear the case, has already convened to consider motions. The Court denied Mr. Haarde’s motion to dismiss the charges against him. I do not believe that Court has set a trial schedule. Regardless, once the trial begins I believe that the former ex-Prime Minister and his legal team will be ready to present a vigorous and intellectually based defense. The prosecution has the burden of proving Mr. Haarde guilty of the charges. Based upon my understanding of the legal rules that will be employed and the way the evidence will be presented I do not believe that the Judges will find Geir Haarde guilty. If he is found not guilty where does Iceland go from here? Iceland should return to concentrating on fixing its economy and stop being in denial; the country had always lived above is means and now has settled into its proper economic place.