The week at a glance...Europe
Reykjavík, Iceland Not his fault: The former prime minister of Iceland has been acquitted of most of the charges stemming from the country’s 2008 near bankruptcy. A special court found Geir Haarde guilty only of the most minor charge, failing to inform other ministers of the extent of Iceland’s financial peril. Haarde was cleared of the charges that could have resulted in jail time, including failing to enact needed banking reforms. Still, his conviction on even one charge came as a surprise, since almost all witnesses at the trial argued that no single person should bear the blame for the implosion of Iceland’s banking sector. Haarde had called the charges a “political vendetta.”
London Did the government help Murdoch? The government of Prime Minister David Cameron faces new allegations of illegally favoring media mogul Rupert Murdoch in a business deal. Last year, Murdoch’s company was trying to take over satellite broadcaster BSkyB in a $12 billion deal that needed the approval of Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. During an inquiry this week into the business practices of Murdoch’s empire, emails from a Hunt aide sent to a Murdoch lobbyist were released showing that the aide shared privileged information and even bragged that it was “absolutely illegal!” for him to do so. The aide quickly resigned; Hunt, who said he knew nothing of the collusion, is fending off calls to do the same.
The Hague, Netherlands Austerity backlash: The Dutch government fell this week after failing to push through a strict austerity budget in line with tough new European Union rules. The Netherlands had been a key ally of Germany in advocating the EU’s fiscal compact, which requires deep spending cuts of most of its 27 member states. But the country’s minority government depended on the support of the far-right Freedom Party, and after its leader Geert Wilders refused to back the cuts, Prime Minister Mark Rutte resigned. That result in the Netherlands, which is in recession but still has a strong credit rating, dimmed the outlook for the German plan, which has become unpopular throughout Europe. “The formula is not working,” said Spanish analyst Jordi Vaquer i Fanés, “and everyone is now talking about whether austerity is the only solution.”
Praia da Luz, Portugal Keep looking for Maddie: British police have asked Portuguese authorities to reopen the case of missing girl Madeleine McCann, saying she may still be alive. Maddie disappeared from a resort five years ago, when she was nearly 4 years old, in a case that drew international coverage because the Portuguese police briefly suspected her parents, who were later cleared. Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said British police are reviewing old evidence and “developing what they believe to be genuinely new material.”