Iceland Looks for Justice
10:50 AM, May 17, 2010 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Or at least someone to blame. Greece was not the first European country to suffer from a financial collapse during the Great Recession--that distinction fell to Iceland, which melted down in October of 2008. Icelanders are still reeling.
Iceland's financial crisis became an economic crisis, which in turn begat a political crisis. A year and a half later Iceland still hasn't figured out how it's going to repay its debts. But the big news from late last week is that the Icelandic government has decided to pursue criminal cases against a number of former bankers.
Most of these bankers are currently living the ex-pat life abroad. It seems unlikely that any of them would willingly return to Iceland to face the charges being leveled against them.
Leaving aside the relative merits of these prosecutions, it's the attempt by the government which is surprising. Iceland is not a litigious country--its total prison population is around 100 inmates. The crusade to put these one-time bankers in the clink is very much out of the national character.
It's just one more example of how unpredictable events become during crisis. When the situation is bad enough, you never know who a people will turn to. Or what they will do.