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Mystery: Three sailors arrested after disappearance of young woman in Iceland

Members of Iceland’s elite police unit flew to a trawler to question the crew.

A YOUNG WOMAN vanishes in the Arctic night, elite police chase down a trawler at sea, and three sailors are jailed: Iceland, with one of the world’s lowest crime rates, is fearing a tragic outcome to a rare crime.

Homicides are extremely rare in the tiny North Atlantic nation – and so the disappearance of 20-year-old Birna Brjansdottir has captivated the country.

The media has reported on little else in recent days, and a solemn march in her honour, tracing her last known steps, was held in Reykjavik on Wednesday.

The auburn-haired young woman was last seen around 5am on Saturday after a night out in Reykjavik’s bars.

Dressed in black trousers, a hooded parka and black Dr Martens, Brjansdottir was captured on video surveillance cameras around dawn, stumbling in the snowy and foggy streets as she bought herself a kebab, struggling to stay on her feet.

brid Birna Brjansdottir

Then, all trace of her was lost. She failed to show up for work a few hours later in the clothing boutique where she’s employed.

Her shoes were found in the port of Hafnarfjordur, south of Reykjavik, not far from the dock where a Greenlandic trawler, the Polar Nanoq, was moored.

Her phone signal was later tracked to that area, where someone turned it off.

Video surveillance cameras also show a small red car, a Kia Rio, parked near the vessel around 6:30am – identical to a vehicle observed near the spot where Brjansdottir was last seen.

The Polar Nanoq lifted anchor the same day.


It was later summoned at sea to turn back to Iceland, and, escorted by the Danish coast guard, returned to Reykjavik on Wednesday.

Just in case, members of Iceland’s elite police force, known as the Viking Squad, flew out to the ship by helicopter to question the crew.

Three sailors ended up arrested, “suspected of possessing information about the disappearance,” Icelandic police wrote on Twitter.

Crime scene technicians have searched the vessel with a fine-toothed comb, but police officials quoted in the Icelandic media said they doubted the young woman was ever brought aboard the ship.

Serious alcohol problems

If the disappearance is confirmed to be criminal, it will certainly go down in Iceland’s crime annals.

A country of just 330,000 people, Iceland has registered an average of 1.8 murders per year since 2001, according to police statistics. The killers are often under the influence of alcohol, or mentally unstable.

“We have always been a homogenous society and egalitarian,” sociologist Helgi Gunnlaugsson explained to AFP.

We are all one family and we all need each other. We have to stick together to survive on this island.

© – AFP, 2017

Read: Three killed and 20 more injured after car drives into pedestrians in Melbourne >

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