Police deny xenophobia claim

23.06.2020 - 15:22
Farsóttarhúsið við Rauðarárstíg í Reykjavík
 Mynd: Þór Ægisson
Víðir Reynisson, State police civil protection chief, says the police did not go too far by distributing a photograph of a Romanian man who could have been carrying COVID-19 last week. It was the last option available to reach him, Víðir says.

The police distributed photos of three Romanians they were looking for last week, but one of the three has told Morgunblaðið newspaper today that Romanian media are wrongly accusing him of links to criminals as a direct result of the Icelandic police advertisement showing him alongside the other two men. The man’s employer in Iceland says the police made mistakes when looking for the men and accuses the force of xenophobia and arrogance. 

Víðir Reynisson disputed the accusations: “We tried everything we could to locate him. He had given us a phone number and address, [but] he didn’t answer the phone and he was not at the address that he had registered and we had applied all the means we believed we had to find him, so this was the last option to put out this advertisement. We felt it was really important to reach him as soon as possible, so this was the outcome. But it was never the intention to link him to criminality or anything like that,” Víðir says. 

11 Romanian citizens are currently at the coronavirus quarantine hotel in central Reykjavík and media reports have occasionally insinuated that they all know each other. That is not the case, however. Police have confirmed that seven will be deported for breaking quarantine rules, but the remaining four came to Iceland with jobs to go to and will remain in the country after quarantine. One man and one woman are in isolation with the coronavirus and are among the seven to be deported once declared healthy. The pair’s illness was only discovered after they were arrested for shoplifting in Selfoss while they should have been in mandatory 14-day quarantine. All 11 entered Iceland before COVID-19 testing at border posts began last week and failed to quarantine as the law dictated. 

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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