Ex-Icelandic PM Geir Haarde hits out at decision to try him

Tuesday 24 April 2012 18.40
Geir Haarde said his trial was a "big waste of taxpayer money"
Geir Haarde said his trial was a "big waste of taxpayer money"

Former Icelandic Prime Minister Geir Haarde has described court charges taken against him over the 2008 financial crisis as "politically motivated" and "a waste of taxpayer money".

Mr Haarde was yesterday found guilty of negligence over his handling of the crisis that saw Iceland's economy go into meltdown.

But he was cleared of three other more serious charges against him.

He will face no punishment and was awarded his legal costs.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said while the outcome had been good for him, the process had been “absurd” and nothing had been achieved by the court case.

"I think it was just a big waste of taxpayer money and the sad thing about it was that it was purely politically motivated," he said.

“And using the court system to settle political differences no good - people do that at the ballot box. The politics of the day should not be deal with in the courts.

"So I don't think this is an example to be emulated elsewhere. If you have criminal charges, if you have people who broke the law or committed crimes, you take them to regular courts.

“If you have political differences or want punish people for their political policies, you do that at the ballot box. I think that is a very clear distinction."

Mr Haarde claimed most analysts believed Iceland's response had been highly successful.

"One of the most important parts of that was that we did not guarantee the external obligations of the banking system like you did in Ireland. That was a big mistake in Ireland, I think. We didn't make that mistake."

He said Iceland had been able to respond to its crisis without the "straitjacket" of being a member of the euro.

"The currency inflexibility that goes with the eurozone would not have suited us.

“Now I won't pass judgement on Ireland or others - but I think it's pretty clear you are paying for the currency fixed exchange rate through other parts of the real economy like the labour market."

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