Out of Thin Air (2017) Movie Script

When I remember things...
it's not just some kind
of mathematical machine in my head.
It is contaminated in terms of facts.
It's mixed with desires... with fears...
Memory is such a fickle thing.
Police are looking for a 19-year-old man
who has been missing since Saturday night.
Rescue teams
are searching the lava fields.
Now, police are searching
for a 34-year-old man.
His car was found abandoned in Keflavk.
Every Icelander knows about this case.
It's the biggest criminal case
of the last century.
Six people
were sentenced in the Supreme Court today
for two murders,
concluding a case
that has rocked Iceland.
It was such torture
because I was this guilty person...
...and I had never really connected
with the actual memory
of any of it happening.
When I was growing up in Reykjavk,
it was a small-town community.
It felt almost like one family
because everyone is related.
In '74, there were
probably 220,000 people.
Iceland was a village,
and you still knew most everyone.
We didn't have so much experience
of the outer world.
It was a safe community.
There was very little crime.
It was a state of innocence, really.
And authorities
were something everybody trusted,
and newspapers, they don't lie,
and that's what people had here.
They trusted that everything
was the way it seemed.
Good evening.
This is a special news report.
Last night, a volcano erupted
in the Westmann Islands.
This is a frightening environment.
It feels like I've reached hell.
It was a time here in Iceland
where there was a lot of changes,
and I remember my parent's generation
was quite nervous of...
what on earth was going on.
And I felt like I was with the crowd
that really had an understanding of life.
Hippies didn't respect rules.
They didn't respect law.
People would be smoking hash
and discussing politics,
and I was soaking up
everything they said like a sponge.
At these parties, where everybody's
passing the pipe, there he is.
And I was wondering, "Who's this guy?"
And somebody said,
"That's Saevar Ciesielski."
Saevar had a foreign look,
most definitely.
He had this dark hair,
and he had these Slavic eyes.
And the other thing about him was,
he was so mysterious.
There was always
this mythology around Ciesielski.
The story was that he had
this group of thugs around him.
They came from broken homes.
They had left school early.
These kids were in trouble
from, basically, the day they were born.
LSD had entered the picture,
and, on one of these occasions,
this party is going on,
and we're just drinking coke or something.
And then, all of a sudden,
I start feeling like I'm getting high,
until I realized
I am actually high on LSD.
So, I started looking for a corner,
somewhere where I could hide.
And then I stumble on something,
and it's Saevar.
And then he tells me,
"Somebody must have put LSD in my drink."
So, we were just gonna hang on
to each other through this.
We talked about our view of life,
innermost pain,
everything there was to know
about each other.
I felt like I had met one of the most
incredible human beings ever.
And he felt the same way, you know?
After that night,
there was no other way
to go forward but together.
The night that Gudmundur disappeared,
we had a party at my house.
We had fun, and later,
we went to a club in Hafnarfjrdur.
The group stayed together
in the beginning.
Then the men started dancing
with the ladies.
When we were leaving,
we searched for him everywhere,
but he must have left before us.
Our friend Kristinn called me on Monday
to ask if I'd heard from Gudmundur.
I said that I didn't know where he was.
By Tuesday, it was more serious.
He still hadn't come home.
The weather changes
very quickly here in Iceland.
Sometimes, you have
a good sunny day in the morning,
but, at noon, you have heavy snow.
Some people don't understand
how quickly...
...the weather changes and, uh, get lost.
Gudmundur disappeared
on Saturday night, 27th of January.
And, on Tuesday, there was
a big call for rescue teams...
...for a search.
There was about 200 people looking,
and we searched until dark.
At that time, there was no thought about
this was a crime or something like that.
Because, in those days,
it happened very often
that people got lost in the lava.
I just waited to hear something.
But nothing happened.
STILL LOS It was a nice summer,
good weather for weeks on end.
The whole country came together
to celebrate the National Day.
May God bless our country.
My family was very upset
about my relationship with Saevar...
because they had been told that he was,
you know, a dangerous guy
because he was selling drugs.
And so, I was out of my relationship
with my family because of him...
and, uh, he did have a hold on me.
I felt privileged
to be considered okay by him.
Saevar had this desire to commit some kind
of a crime that he would get away with
and leave authorities
just tearing their hair out
'cause they couldn't prove anything.
As I was working
for a telephone company,
I came up with this embezzlement
that we eventually committed.
What we had to do was
tamper with the telephones
to make it sound like
we were calling long distance.
I called the office where I worked,
and I said I have a postal order.
And so, it gets processed
and sent from there
to the main post office downtown.
And then I go to the post office,
and I tell them,
"I'm here to pick up the post order."
I was so scared.
I felt like, "I'm gonna get caught."
The amount that we embezzled
was just under a million kroner.
And I became pretty confident
that they would never find out.
"Boy, are they gonna be pissed off.
We got 'em."
The police
are searching for Geirfinnur Einarsson,
who has been missing since last Tuesday.
The whole chain of events
were so mysterious...
that we immediately thought,
"This is a murder enquiry."
That night,
Geirfinnur arranged to meet
some unknown men at a local harbor caf.
Witnesses remember
that a man came into the caf,
and he asked to use the phone.
This was about the same time
that Geirfinnur got his phone call.
Yeah... Papa.
I'm coming.
The last person
to see him was his 12-year-old son.
Geirfinnur's car was discovered
close to the Harbor Caf.
Is there nothing that helps indicate
what might have happened?
No, there's absolutely nothing.
He was a good man, had no enemies.
It was unlike him to disappear like that.
There were searching teams
all over the docks, divers in the harbor,
everything was done.
An artist in Keflavk
came up with the idea
to make a clay statue of the suspect...
and the reaction was overwhelming
in our society.
Are you optimistic
that this case will be solved?
Yes, we will find this man.
No body was found,
so we were totally at a blank end.
Very early on, got the sense
that something going on here
that's not going to end well.
And it turned out, didn't end well.
Our daughter was born
here in Reykjavk...
on the 24th of September, 1975.
Saevar was present at the birth
and very excited.
After she was born,
I had one focus in my life...
and that was to be
a perfect mother for this child.
I would sacrifice anything.
And I was really upset
with Saevar's way of life at that point.
I had told him,
"I don't want this anymore."
I just want to have a normal life
in the daylight, nothing to hide.
I was 20 years old, and I was so naive.
Saevar and his friends
were known to the police.
They were...They were a part of...
some kind of a criminal underworld.
Most of them
had been in prison for a petty crime...
They were violent.
This was a nasty group of kids.
When they came to arrest me,
they surrounded this big building
as if they were arresting a terrorist.
All I could do was call my sister.
So, she came around and took the baby.
I remember getting in a car.
Glimpses where I'm just really scared.
And I remember trying to tell them,
"I can't be here for a long time
because the baby needs me."
They took me to this prison.
And then I was locked up in this cell.
The next day, they spoke to me
and explained that I was now
gonna be held in custody for 30 days
on suspicion of the embezzlement.
I just broke down
and couldn't handle that reality.
What about the baby?
And then they just sent me
back to my cell,
and then left me there
for six days and nights.
During the questioning
about the embezzlement,
they told me that Saevar
had been very clear
that I had been entirely
on my own doing that.
And they told me, "You need to realize
that Saevar is a really rotten
human being to the core.
There is no redemption for him."
I was really shocked that Saevar
would betray me that way,
but he had betrayed me
in terms of other girls,
so it was easier for me to believe them.
Eventually, I decided
to tell them everything.
Not just the embezzlement,
but anything illegal that I was aware of.
And what a relief.
It was the end of an era
and a beginning of a life.
These guys had actually helped me.
And then one of them says,
"Oh, by the way, one other thing
we wanted to ask you...
Do you know a guy by the name
of Gudmundur Einarsson?"
And then he shows me a photograph.
I said, "Yeah, I've seen this guy,
years ago at my girlfriend's house.
She had a school party. I remember him
because he was a really nice guy."
And that was it. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, yeah, I don't remember
ever seeing him after that."
During that case, I think it was Erla
who started to tell them about...
things that had happened...
the year before.
This was a long questioning.
It was hours.
And, during that whole process,
they got closer and closer
to talking about the weekend
when this boy disappeared.
Somehow, it got down to me telling them
that I had had a nightmare.
The weather that night was crazy.
It would just howl like... like a wolf.
And, an old house like that...
you feel like the house is,
you know, moving.
Then I hear some whispering.
There were people outside my window.
And these were violent people.
And I become aware
that they're whispering,
wondering if I'm awake or not.
I feel like I'm in this corner,
I can't go anywhere.
And then I wake up.
After all this questioning,
the chief of the investigation leans over,
and he says, "Something terrible happened
that night in that apartment.
You witnessed it, and you cannot recall
because of the trauma it caused you.
So, what we want to do now is,
you go back to your cell,
and you try as much as you can
to remember,
and then we will be back
and talk about it some more."
I remember lying there,
thinking about that night.
My head was full of pictures.
And I wondered, "Was that nightmare
maybe something that really did happen?"
That I woke up...
...got out of bed...
...and saw them.
I saw Saevar and Kristjan
and a third person I didn't recognize
carrying something heavy.
I didn't see what was in the sheet,
but I was sure that it was a body.
I couldn't move.
I was cold, but, at the same time,
I felt like I was sweating.
Later, Saevar took me by the arms
and put me to bed.
I said I was going to deny everything.
Gudmundur disappears in January '74,
and she made this confession December '75.
So, it's already two years.
I searched the flat...
but, uh, there was not much evidence
on the scene.
No DNA, nothing of the sort.
After I was released, they call me,
and they tell me,
"We have questioned Saevar..."
"...and we just want to let you know
that his testimony is in line
with yours in detail."
December 22nd, 1975.
Saevar said that Gudmundur, Kristjan,
and Tryggvi had all come to the apartment
during the night in late January 1974.
An argument had ended
in Gudmundur's death.
Saevar had called his friend Albert
and asked him to come in his father's car.
It was, uh... half past 11 in the evening.
Kristjan called and he said,
"They're accusing me of murder."
Kristjan then reveals the other guys,
and something had happened.
I can't clearly remember
the events of that night.
I was under the influence of alcohol.
But all I'm going to tell you,
I think I remember with certainty.
There was a fight in the apartment,
and I'm sure I took no part in it.
There was some disagreement,
I'm sure, between Kristjan
and the man with no name.
It started by them cursing each other,
but ended in a fight.
Then the man hit me, and I think
I hit him, and he fell to the floor.
Then I saw Saevar kick him in the head.
The next thing I remember
is that Albert's car was at the house.
Saevar, Kristjan,
and Tryggvi approached the vehicle.
I saw that all three carried
something that looked like a bag.
Saevar told me where to drive.
On the way back, Saevar and I
discussed what was in the bag.
Saevar then clearly told me
that it contained a corpse.
The police had told me that,
when they were trying to figure out
what had been done with the body,
they had cut it all up into pieces
and carried it out in plastic bags.
My mind was getting really warped.
And it felt, to me, like all this had been
going on with me completely unaware
and that these guys
had been butchers of people.
I was picturing him,
when he's holding the baby...
The smile was just an act or...
Everything becomes questionable.
The first people
to know about the birth of baby Jesus
were the three wise men from the East.
Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar.
They predicted these events
from old writings
and the position of the stars.
The next thing that happened is--
is in early 1976.
Police is still investigating
Saevar and Erla about Gudmundur.
They mention also Geirfinnur.
The police always
stayed in touch with me.
And, with my social situation,
where I was so isolated,
these were the only friends
in the world that I had,
and they became very important to me.
At some point, the talk starts getting
to the disappearance of Geirfinnur.
And he asks me point blank,
"Do you think that Saevar knows something
about what happened to him?"
The thing about Geirfinnur
was that he was never found.
So, it was suspicious from the start.
Then started some rumors
and some conspiracy theories.
There were all these rumors going on
that there might have been a connection
between the disappearance of Geirfinnur
and people running
a particular discotheque.
There were always
a lot of smugglers all around,
and the rumor was
that some of the clubs would...
get their alcohol from that source.
So, maybe this guy Geirfinnur
got caught up in smuggling.
We drove from the city
and headed to Keflavk.
Saevar held my hand the whole time
like he didn't want to let go.
The car stopped close to the sea.
Basically, Geirfinnur had been hired
to pick up
big plastic containers of alcohol
that were being smuggled
into the country.
And then there had been a quarrel.
And he had died because of all of that.
For the village of Iceland,
this was, you know-- this was shocking.
It was the biggest story to hit
the population for years and years.
The perception was
that this was organized crime
that ended with people
in the highest places.
The gossip was that the Progressive Party
had been involved in all the smuggling.
And the chairman of the Progressive Party
was the Minister of Justice.
So, this was a big scandal.
I'm being accused of obstructing
the investigation of a disappearance
and even implying I'm covering up murder.
It was really the beginning of...
I would call it "public hysteria."
We had a killer gang amongst us,
two times... murders...
Where was the police?
How could this have happened?
And, of course,
in this little close-knit community,
everyone was talking about this.
What's really going on...
in this kind of a hotbed society?
In a way, we lost our innocence,
we lost our security.
All of a sudden, the big bad world
was knocking at our door.
Then, in early May '76, all of a sudden,
these four men are released.
Turns out that the investigation
produced nothing.
Saevar and the gang,
they made up this story.
It took the police three months
to figure out that this was...
all the time, was a total lie.
During the summer of 1976,
I was a detective with that same force
investigating these two cases.
What I saw is that the police were under
incredible pressure to solve these cases.
The atmosphere was tense, like a panic.
The message that was being communicated,
was, "All of these people,
they're playing games,
they're not cooperating."
The police was
in a very, very bad situation.
Even after they have confessed
killing Geirfinnur,
they're still changing their story
about how he died.
And the police didn't have the bodies.
They had only the statements
from these people.
Saevar put the rifle
in my hands and sit next to me.
I was so close to the guy
that I could see his face.
He seemed to realize what was happening
to him, and there was panic in his eyes.
The investigation had been
going on for a long time.
It didn't seem to be going very well.
The police had
not experienced a case like that.
I mean, two murders.
The public was demanding that the police
would come up with a solution.
Find the guilty persons.
The Minister of Justice
is getting anxious.
He's responsible for the whole thing,
so he uses his influence,
and soon after,
uh, this guy Schutz shows up.
He was head
of the West German Security Police.
We thought, "Well this seems to be, uh...
you know, the real McCoy."
Karl Schutz sets up
a task force of seven police officers,
and there were three interpreters
and the investigating judge.
And he was quite a hard taskmaster.
The focus is very much,
"We've got to find the bodies."
There were
an enormous amount of searches
for Gudmundur's and Geirfinnur's bodies.
Karl Schutz spent months studying the case
and trying to understand it.
And he was also interviewing
the suspects through an interpreter.
The focus was on, "Who was the driver
who took the gang to meet Geirfinnur?"
They had to find somebody
who could have...
driven the car...
and somebody they all knew...
...and there was I.
Gudjn was different to the others.
He was older,
he was a much more educated man,
and he came from a good background.
And he said he had been there.
It was a confession
that was used to convict the others.
The three of us fought with Geirfinnur,
and that resulted in his death.
I don't remember
the body being put in the car,
but, on the way back to Reykjavk,
I remember I was sad
that I was an accomplice to murder.
We transferred the body to Reykjavk,
of course, to get rid of the corpse
so it would never be found.
Erla waited while we carried the body
into the Land Rover
and put him in the back.
We then drove all the way to Raudhlar.
We dug a hole into the red gravel
just big enough to fit the body.
Geirfinnur's body still hasn't been found.
But the offenders who caused his death
have told us that he is buried
in the Red Hills.
This relies up to 95 percent
on the statements of the accused...
but we have put every effort
into investigating and verifying them.
As we criminal specialists often say,
this is beyond reasonable doubt.
State radio calls up the Prime Minister
to get his reaction,
and he says, "The nightmare is over."
The people here
Have clashed with the system
But something's missing
I insist this black hole needs
A specialist
Yes, yes, yes
Yes, yes, yes
This black hole needs a specialist
Yes, yes, yes
We capture in no time
Everyone who's suspected of a crime
We bring them here to this dank place
We bring them here to confess!
Yes, yes, yes
Yes, yes, yes
We bring them here to confess!
Yes, yes, yes
This is court case number 214,1978.
Judicial authorities against
Kristjan Vidarsson, Saevar Ciesielski,
Tryggvi Leifsson, Albert Skaftason,
Erla Bolladttir.
The public just wanted our blood.
There was so much pressure on authorities
to convict all of us
and get us really good.
And there was no one that actually
did not believe all this.
In a flat in Hamarsbraut 11...
they beat him so badly that he died,
and then hid his body.
The state prosecutor finished his speech.
How long was it?
He spoke for about 15 and a half hours.
Are the speeches normally this long?
No, I've never known anything like it.
Now, the accused had the opportunity
to present their cases,
and they did.
What they said was
that they were innocent.
There was a lack of evidence,
there are no bodies,
and the whole case was, uh...
...was nonsense.
But, even though they were
withdrawing their testimonies...
people believed
they had killed those two men.
End of story.
I was found guilty
of the embezzlement, of course,
and perjury.
Well, that I had intentionally
framed innocent people
for something they didn't do.
Saevar, Kristjan, and Tryggvi
were convicted of murdering Gudmundur.
Albert had helped hide the body.
Saevar, Kristjan, and Gudjn
were convicted of murdering Geirfinnur
in a dispute over alcohol smuggling.
Kristjan had been the man
who made the mysterious phone call.
The court have ruled the following...
The accused Kristjan Vidar Vidarsson
is sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Saevar Ciesielski
is sentenced to 17 years.
Tryggvi Leifsson
is sentenced to 13 years.
Gudjn Skarphdinsson
is sentenced to 10 years.
Albert Skaftason
is sentenced to 12 months.
Erla Bolladttir
is sentenced to three years.
In the end, the police arrested
the right people in both cases.
It was always with the feeling
that he was some sort
of a satanic criminal.
And I was supposed to have been
this submissive
but monstrous person as well.
The image that we were given was very much
like Charles Manson and his girlfriend.
The Minister of Justice thanks Karl Schutz
for unburdening the Icelandic nation
of a nightmare.
Obviously, the Minister of Justice
was assuming case solved.
What he didn't say...
"This is the beginning
of an endless nightmare,
and this nightmare
is still going to this day."
I don't think I had a clear thought
for years through all this.
I felt like I was drowning
in so much confusion and so much guilt.
Your thoughts can take over,
and your mind becomes a monster.
"What of this am I remembering?
And what is missing
that I'm not remembering?"
Memory is such a fickle thing.
The day I got out, all I could think was,
"My daughter's on the other side."
Man, I had prepared for days,
you know, to look right
and-and, you know,
have the right things to say.
And she had this bouquet of flowers.
And... it was the happiest day ever.
When I was released,
I was basically two things.
I provoked curiosity, and I was despised.
And people felt free to express it,
like spitting in my face.
The first time Saevar and I ever talked
about what had happened...
...it was literally that kind of moment,
like, "What the hell happened to us?
What was it all about?"
He went through years of anger...
blaming me for everything.
And I went through incredible guilt
for having testified against him.
There were so many years
where we just couldn't connect,
and it had so much to do with, you know,
our relationship had been invaded
by such dark powers.
It was very difficult
to be Saevar Ciesielski
here in Iceland, in this small society.
He, somehow, became the evil
for, like, I don't know,
ninety percent of the Icelandics.
Just evil incarnate.
When Saevar came out of prison...
he met a girl, and they lived together,
and they had two children,
and they even moved to America.
We tried to move to Colorado
and just start a new...
you know, family there,
away from all this drama.
But he really could not let it go.
He wanted to clear his name.
We decided to go back to Iceland.
And then he started to, you know,
really try to fight this case.
There is one question
I have always wanted to ask you.
Where is Geirfinnur?
I don't know anything
about the disappearance of Geirfinnur.
I didn't kill Geirfinnur or Gudmundur,
and I want justice.
And I'm here to get it,
and I'll fight to the end.
Saevar Ciesielski added a report
to the Ministry of Justice today
and a letter to the president
of Supreme Court.
Uh... everything was done to put
the guilt on me. I don't know why.
Maybe because I have a foreign name.
And I was treated like an animal.
I want to regain respect.
I insist that I be acquitted
and the case retried.
I collected information and documents
trying to understand what had happened.
The evidence of the...
of the case itself...
I saw the flaws, and they were so obvious.
Usually, in murder cases, you have
the place where the crime was committed,
you have bodies, you have motives.
They had no such
traditional evidence at all.
They only had the statements made
by the accused themselves.
My legal arguments were quite tight.
And the facts were all in favor
of reopening the case.
I presented all this to the Supreme Court.
In the Supreme Court decision
that was published today,
Ragnar's arguments are addressed
and the court's decision is clear.
They are not enough for a retrial.
Even though the Supreme Court has decided
that the case should not be reopened,
the court thinks the new documents show
Saevar was badly mistreated in prison.
You feel that they were considered guilty
by the media and authorities
before the verdict was published?
You're innocent until proven guilty.
In this case, the media all decided
that they were guilty.
I hope this will open people's eyes
to how the system works.
Let's be rational
and make up our own minds.
Thank you.
He had
a lot of support already at that time.
People there obviously not believing
in the correctness
of the conclusions of the courts.
How are you doing financially?
I'm in a very bad position. Very bad.
-Yes, I am.
I staked everything on this.
I saw a lot of Saevar
after he lost his battle.
He had put his entire existence into this,
and, you know,
where was he gonna go from there?
I mean, in his world,
there were no options.
I always knew there was
something really dark and bad
that happened to my father.
Years and years of trying
to fight the system,
and that, in the end,
just tore him apart completely.
Many people knew Saevar only
from the streets.
He was a heavy drinker, a broken man.
He was a famous man by that time.
And people were
kind of mellowing towards him.
He still had this charm.
He might be drunk and drugged,
but he always usually kept his charm.
But, of course, it was very, very sad.
Who the fuck do you think you are?
I have suffered because of you.
Because of you.
I'm going to tell you one thing.
Life isn't that simple.
Why did you attack me like that
when I was a young boy?
Why did you attack me?
He was really emotional in the end
about this whole thing,
and it was pretty hard to watch
that happen, you know,
in slow-motion, in front of you.
Everybody had followed Saevar's journey...
because he fought many battles...
to prove his innocence... with no results.
His funeral was held
at the cathedral downtown,
and it was totally packed,
from the street people, to politicians.
JULY 1955 - JULY 2011
When he died, it hit the news.
His relatives,
Erla and his children came forward
and talked about this case,
talked about his battles.
And... pushed that this case
should be reopened and reinvestigated.
That's when I thought
maybe I should do something about it.
As a reporter, when you look at this case,
you're warned that you might
be stepping into a black hole.
And, once you start to look into it,
you just can't stop.
I had filmed a couple of interviews
with people related to this case.
And then I decided to speak
to Tryggvi's widow.
My mom called me
and said that there was this woman
from the news coming to interview her
regarding my dad's case...
and asked if I want to come
and be with them.
There was something in my... in my mind
that said that this could be useful...
because I didn't want my dad
to be remembered as a murderer.
When we arrived,
his daughter was there, Kristn.
And she said, "I have something
you might be interested in.
I have my father's diaries
from when he was in prison."
I just wanted her to see them.
And I didn't think it would have
any more meaning than that.
I just wanted her to see
something from my dad.
A piece of him.
When she showed me
the diaries, there's a long title.
It read, "This is a diary
of an innocent man,
who is accused of a very serious thing
in a very serious case."
"April 25th, 1977.
So, now, I have been here continuously
for 16 months and 11 days in custody,
including 14 months in isolation,
totally alone.
I shall hold fast.
I don't have to be afraid as I'm innocent,
and justice always prevails in the end."
I realized, at that point,
we had something new.
We had something to report on.
So, I thought we would have
to get a specialist's opinion.
Gsli Gudjnsson is a world leading expert
on false confessions.
An Icelander,
who has practiced in the UK for 40 years.
I was thinking, "The diaries, they need
to go to Gsli. He is the person.
If anybody should see them,
it's gonna be him."
But I was so nervous.
I was afraid that Gsli would say that...
even though he wrote that he was
an innocent man, maybe he wasn't.
I could not say,
from reading the diaries,
this man is innocent or not
because it's not for me to say.
But he was stating his innocence
and explaining why.
And that suggested
that this was new material,
and I thought the case
should be reviewed again.
The key implication was that perhaps
the confessions were not reliable.
I was so relieved.
That was... the biggest scoop.
Let's go back
to 1974, to the 21st of November,
two days after the disappearance
of Geirfinnur Einarsson here in Keflavk.
My story was broadcast,
and it got massive attention.
And I think in the same week,
the Ministry announced
that an investigation committee
would be established.
I decided to put down a commission
to look into the investigation
and the methods used in the investigation
and how these confessions were obtained.
We went through thousands of pages.
Police reports,
handwritten notes from the police...
uh, reports taken from prison cards.
It was quite obvious,
when we looked into the prison diaries,
that many records were missing.
The convicted had a lack of access
to their attorneys,
and they were interrogated
many, many times more often
than the police reports indicated.
Saevar, for example,
he had been interrogated
180 times, for 340 hours.
He had been in solitary
for 615 days.
Erla was interrogated 105 times.
Tryggvi was kept in solitary
for the longest,
for 655 days total.
It came very clear to us that, uh...
many things were going seriously wrong
under the investigation.
The task force
presented their results today
and said there is no doubt
that the confessions are unreliable.
They recommend
that the state prosecutor reopen the case.
The key findings of the commission
were that these confessions
were, in all likelihood, fabricated.
People had been admitting
to something they didn't do.
I have never worked on a case,
anywhere in the world,
where there'd been so many interrogations
and such lengthy interrogations.
This is quite exceptional.
This is the only case I know of,
where so many individuals have had
their memories distorted to this extent.
Five of the six had what I call
a memory distrust syndrome.
The person begins to think,
"Maybe something did happen
and I didn't remember it."
When I read the report,
I was really faced
with how incredibly unreliable memory is.
"What of this am I remembering?
And what is missing
that I'm not remembering?"
This whole thing starts
with a confession...
...where Erla was under
no pressure at all.
It's she that tells them
that they were involved
in the killing of Gudmundur.
The police had been explaining that,
often when people experience something
that is too much for them to handle,
they bury it somewhere
and they cannot recall it.
And they said,
"We know how to help you remember
if you did witness something terrible."
They formed a crack in my mind.
And then they just got in there
and worked on it.
And that was my horror...
to face the possibility
that Saevar would have resorted
to cutting up a human being.
Through all this exchange,
this story came out, almost like a genie,
you know, or something.
And-And-And, for a long time,
I asked myself, "Who made that story?
Did I make it or...?
How did that, you know, transpire?"
At the time that Erla was questioned...
in the Gudmundur case,
she was a very vulnerable person.
It is likely that the police officers
had in their own mind
a scenario of what had happened
to Gudmundur Einarsson.
And, over time, Erla began to believe
that maybe Saevar and his friends
had been involved.
Once she began to express doubt
in her own memory,
the police went for it.
Now, the police
were gonna come after me
about what happened to Geirfinnur.
In one version,
Saevar hit him with a wooden log.
Another time,
he had kicked him in the head,
and Kristjan had done it,
and it was all over the place.
And then they had a warrant for my arrest.
At that point, I felt so guilty.
And I was so responsible
for ruining so many people's lives...
that, um... it was not too much for me
to take it on me.
The police were faced with a huge dilemma.
They had confessions,
but they had no substance.
There was nothing tangible
that came out of those interrogations.
And the country wanted an answer.
What happened to Geirfinnur Einarsson?
To come to Sidumuli Prison
when the cases of Gudmundur
and Geirfinnur started,
it was another world.
The atmosphere in Sidumuli was very tense.
The attitude amongst the guards
and the policemen
was that these people were murderers.
The more pressure,
the sooner they would confess.
The guards despised Saevar.
They called him, "the rat."
The one thing to break him down...
was to rid him of sleep.
There was a light,
day and night, 24 hours.
And, during night,
they would knock on the wall,
where he was inside.
That was to keep him awake.
Saevar was afraid of water.
They took him...
and immersed his head into the water...
...and said they would drown him
if he didn't confess.
Those guards who did it,
they enjoyed it and were proud of it
and laughed about it, of drowning the rat.
This was a heavy-handed investigation.
This was heavy.
Albert Klahn went berserk
in custody after a few days.
Tryggvi had to be, after four nights
of sleeplessness, sedated by an injection.
Kristjan Vidar tried
to kill himself twice.
It's breaking down that core.
Your capacity to really say,
"I know that did not happen."
Once that's broken down,
you are very vulnerable.
There was nothing but waiting...
...waiting for the next interrogation,
wondering what I would say.
In the cell, I could do nothing but think.
I grew into the walls.
I could not feel my body. I was just head.
There is a picture,
which really was accepted by the court,
where Kristjan Vidar is kind of enacting
what happened to Geirfinnur.
Here is what happened.
There's a photograph of it,
accepting how it took place.
Once you have enacted something,
you are showing how you did it.
It may have a damaging affect in the sense
that it may reinforce that memory.
You begin to think
it did actually happen like that.
It was four times a day that
they brought pills that I had to take.
And all of them had one thing in common,
and that was they were tranquilizing.
I wasn't allowed to go outside.
It was complete isolation.
Very soon, you shrink down
to this helpless baby.
Your mentality, your intelligence,
everything just shrinks,
and you're in this abstract world.
You know, I really just... needed to die.
But this one... one tie with the baby...
was the thing
that didn't allow me to do that.
When I thought about her,
I couldn't picture her.
I couldn't see her face.
And then I knew I was going crazy,
and I even wondered,
"Did I ever even have a baby?
Is that also my imagination?
'Cause I could swear
that I feel that I do."
But no picture's coming.
The criminal police told her...
that, in order to get out,
she had to tell everything.
And therefore, she told and told and told.
Much too much.
This case is probably the first one
that the police feels pressure
from the press and from public.
They had this fact
that these people were missing.
They had "confessions," if you like,
from some of the people
that had been involved in killing them.
But they always were changing
the stories of who did what.
Karl Schutz is brought in
by the Minister of Justice
to harmonize the confessions
and to make them credible
in terms of the court of law.
He is very much in charge,
driving the investigation.
Everything is focused on proving
that they were guilty.
Karl Schutz taught
the Icelandic detectives
a new way of interrogating.
Basically, it involved coming at suspects
from many different directions.
They would jump from one time to another
to trick them into revealing the truth.
The police suggest things.
"Could it have been this way?
Could it have been that way?"
And the person persuades himself
perhaps he was present...
and begins to believe it.
When Gudjn Skarphdinsson was arrested,
his statements...
were very important
in-in closing up the case.
The detective wants me to get used
to the thought of being a murderer.
If they think I am going to confess
to Saevar and Erla's stories,
then they are wrong.
It's the same...
...routine again and again.
"Did they bury him somewhere
or throw him in the ocean?
Where was the car? Who else
was involved? What was his role about?"
You get tired,
and you don't know if you are dreaming
or remembering things.
I got completely confused.
It came like clips from a movie
into your mind.
Then I had confessed my involvement
in the killing of Geirfinnur Einarsson.
In the end,
you feel you have been there...
that this has really happened.
You wonder, "What else has happened
that I don't remember?"
You can't trust your own mind.
It's sort of like somebody pulls
the carpet from underneath,
and you're standing in thin air,
and you don't know where the ground is.
From the beginning,
there was presumption of guilt.
Nobody seemed to consider the possibility
that these people might be innocent
and that they did not know what had
happened to Gudmundur and Geirfinnur.
Once the confession is taken,
once it's in the air...
it corrupts everything else.
My feeling is that the police
was under that much pressure that,
once they were on this journey
and went down that track...
there was no turning back.
The rumor here in Iceland is that
it's all a conspiracy by the police.
And I'm telling you it's not.
These were honest guys trying to do
their best, and they did the right thing.
In the end, it's the prosecution system
that has to decide what to do
with the result of a police investigation.
I think we are... learning from this case.
We are looking into a mirror.
When there's been a miscarriage of justice
and lives are destroyed...
it's terribly important
that the truth emerges
and that we correct the injustices
that have been done.
This was a witch-hunt that did much harm.
I remember saying to myself,
"How did it come about that
I was caught up in this public hysteria?"
And it brought out...
bad things in people, you know.
And that's what
we're still recovering from.
Erla and Saevar...
they were the perfect scapegoats.
It's still difficult for me
to see those pictures.
It's just so painful to see this child...
'cause I'm connecting
to what she went through,
but it still isn't really me.
It's always somebody else.
And it leaves you pretty crazy, you know.