Murder case brings unexpected spotlight to remote Faroes

Killer convicted in the islands’ first murder trial in decades

(photo: Merlijn Hoek)
December 10th, 2012 8:59 pm| by admin
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A man has been convicted of killing a Faroe Island native, marking the first murder trial in the quiet island country in over 20 years, the Associated Press reported last week.

Milan Konovat, a 33-year-old Croatian, was found guilty of murdering Danjal Petur Hansen, who was last seen in early November 2011 near his home in Runavik, on the Faroe’s second largest island, Eysturoy.

Police discovered traces of blood on a pillow and frying pan in Hansen’s home during investigations. His body was never found despite extensive coastline searches, and is believed to have been thrown off a cliff.

During the trial, it was revealed that Konovat had been having an affair with Hansen’s ex-wife. Konovat had immigrated to the islands in 2009 for a fishing job in Runavik. According to his lawyer, he had learned Faroese and integrated normally into society.

“It has been top news up here for weeks because it was the biggest crime story we ever had,” Eirikur Lindenskov, the editor of Sosialurin, the Faroe Islands’ largest newspaper, told the Associated Press.

The Faroe Islands are known as a quiet, remote society. The last murder trial there occurred in 1988, when a man was convicted of shooting and killing his girlfriend.

Home to 48,500 inhabitants, the islands house fourteen prison cells, about twelve of which are occupied daily.

“The Faroe Islands is a very peaceful and safe society,” Bent JH Hansen, the head of the Faroes'’ prison board, told the AP. “For many years, crime here was chiefly linked to drunken driving and drinking-related brawls, but in recent years we have seen more drugs and drug-related violence.”

Despite the increase in recent years, islanders are reluctant to attribute the murder to the spike in crime.

"To us, this is only a tragedy between three people that ended with a man disappearing and lots of blood and evidence against him,” Jens-Kristian Vang, a meat-packing employee, told the AP. “People see that, not that the general crime level here has increased because of this murder case.”

Konovat will be sentenced on Thursday, and may face up to sixteen years in prison.

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