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Payback time in Iceland
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30 Minuts

Payback time in Iceland

At the demonstrations held by "els indignats" (the outraged) in Spain, the occasional Icelandic flag could be seen waving among the protest signs. Iceland was said to have undergone a "silent revolution" and its response to the financial crisis became virtually a model for the rest of the world.

At the demonstrations held by "els indignats" (the outraged) in Spain, the occasional Icelandic flag could be seen waving among the protest signs. Iceland was said to have undergone a "silent revolution" and its response to the financial crisis became virtually a model for the rest of the world. A team from "30 Minuts" visited this island of a mere 320,000 inhabitants to find out what Icelanders did differently when, just three years ago, they saw their banking system collapse.

One of the ground-shaking measures they took in response to the dramatic turn of events was to democratically choose 25 ordinary citizens to draft a new constitution, scheduled for Parliamentary debate in October. The report looks at the final weeks of activity in the Icelandic Constitutional Council offices just before the final vote.

Another historic measure was to take their former prime minister, Geir H. Haarde, to court. This made him the first European leader to be tried for responsibility in the financial crisis, even though for lesser charges than originally proposed. Former Prime Minister Haarde is interviewed in the report.

Icelanders also decided by referendum that they should not be held responsible for paying back the banks' debts to depositors in the UK and the Netherlands. It confronted these countries in the Icesave case, which is now being resolved in a European court. Iceland's President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, under pressure from people's protests, was forced to hold the referendum. He, too, is interviewed in the program.

A group of consumers denounced the country's banks for having granted illegal loans and won the case. The president of the Debtors' Association is interviewed.

A special prosecutor's office was set up with 60 public prosecutors working to investigate the responsibility of over 300 bankers and financiers for the banks' collapse. For the moment, they have only managed to bring two cases to court. "30 Minuts" talks to one of the prosecutors.

Iceland is a small, isolated country, a case apart, a kind of laboratory where trial tests can be carried out. For many people, nothing has changed substantially, but everyone recognizes that Iceland's economy is recovering from the financial crisis better than other countries. But apart from the numbers, the report also reflects Icelanders' special character, which has helped them face the crisis with dignity and change their position on issues through reflection, admitting mistakes, getting politically involved, protesting and forming associations to fight for the changes they want to see. It is truly payback time in Iceland, for all the guilty parties involved.

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