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Updated: March 6, 2012 01:19 IST

Iceland ex-Premier on trial

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Iceland's former Prime Minister Geir Haarde. File photo
Iceland's former Prime Minister Geir Haarde. File photo

Iceland's ex-Prime Minister Geir Haarde went on trial on Monday over his role in the 2008 banking sector collapse that brought his country to its knees, becoming the first political leader to be tried over the global financial crisis.

“I reject all accusations, and believe there is no basis for them,” Mr. Haarde (60), told the court as he took the stand. He pointed out that “this is the first time I get a chance to answer questions regarding this case”, adding: “I hail the fact that I get to answer questions in the case.”

Mr. Haarde, who headed the Right-leaning Independence Party, held the reins of government from mid-2006 to early 2009 when his coalition was ousted amid public uproar over the crisis.

He was one of four politicians blamed in a 2010 report for contributing to Iceland's stunning financial collapse, when all its major banks failed in a matter of weeks. But Parliament voted in September 2010 that he was the only one who should be tried on charges related to the collapse of the Icesave bankHowever, in October, the court threw out the most serious charge of “gross neglect”.

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