And finally… Iceland repeals law allowing people from Basque country to be killed on sight



Iceland has repealed a 400-year-old law which allowed its citizens to kill anyone from the Basque region of Spain on sight.

The law was enacted in 1615 after a quarrel between the locals and 80 shipwrecked Basque whalers who had no food and were accused of stealing it from farmers.

It provided that anyone from the Basque region who entered the Westfjords could be freely killed.

In an event known at the “Slaying of the Spaniards”, 32 whalers were murdered on the instructions of local sheriff Ari Magnússon.

Jonas Gudmundsson, district commissioner of the West Fjords, repealed the law, saying “It’s safe for Basques to come here now”.

Reassuringly, he added that no one had acted on the law for years.

He said: “The decision to do away with the decree was more symbolic than anything else.

“We have laws, of course, and killing anyone - including Basques - is forbidden these days.”

The Iceland Review said that in a ceremony repealing the law a memorial was unveiled to the whalers, with a descendent of one of the murdered Spaniards and a descendant of one of the killers reconciling as part of the ceremony.

Mr Gudmundsson told Bloomberg: “These events are a dark spot in Icelandic history.

“Basques are, of course, very welcome here and anywhere in Iceland and killing them is and has been unlawful, just as the killing of other human beings.

“This was obviously a cowardly event that we regret to this day.”

A number of Basques visited Westfjords for the ceremony.

Mr Gudmundsson said: “They were very happy with the announcement.”

He shook hands with Martín Garitano, the governor of Gipuzkoa province in the Basque country and gave him a flag with a sword inside a circle of the gods.

“It’s a symbol of peace to show him that we are now a people of peace,” he said.

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