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Iceland Mag


Greenlandic sailor accused of beating Birna before throwing her unconscious into ocean

By Staff

  • Thomas Møller Olsen The young Greenlandic fisherman has been in custody since January 19 when he was arrested on suspicion of having murdered 20 year old local girl. Photo/Eyþór

Thomas Møller Olsen, the 25 year old Greenlandic sailor who has been charged with the murder of 20 year old local girl, Birna Brjánsdóttir, is charged with having attacked her viciously, beating and strangling her, before throwing her unconscious and naked into the ocean, causing her to drown. The details of the charge were revealed yesterday.

Acted alone

Birna Brjánsdóttir, Missing girl

Birna Brjánsdóttir The disappearance and death of Birna gripped the Icelandic nation. Photo/Metropolitan Police

The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service reports that Thomas Møller is charged with having attacked Birna in a red Kia Rio he had rented while the trawler Polar Nanoq, where he was a crew member, was docked in Hafnarfjörður harbour in the Capital region. Thomas and a fellow crew member had picked Birna up in downtown Reykjavík early in the morning of Saturday January 14. 

Read more: Greenlandic sailor has been charged with the murder of 20 year old Birna Brjánsdóttir

The other crew member, who was originally detained on suspicion of being connected to the disappearance and death of Birna, was later released. Police believe he had nothing to do with the murder of Birna which took place after Thomas dropped him off at the pier where the trawler was docked. According to the charge Thomas proceeded to attack Birna in the car at the harbour after the other man had left the car.

Brutal attack
The charge states that Thomas beat Birna repeatedly in the head and face, breaking her nose. He also strangled her. Birna's body, which was found naked in the rocky shore by Selvogsviti lighthouse on the south coast of Reykjanes peninsula, had numerous injuries and bruises caused by the beating. Thomas is charged with having thrown Birna unconscious into the sea, causing her to drown.

Thomas has previously been accused of raping an unconscious woman in Greenland, but he was acquitted by a court in Greenland after his friend claimed the woman was lying when she said the sex was non-consensual.  

Sued for punitive damages
The parents of Birna have also sued Thomas Møller Olsen for punitive damages and to pay for their daughters funeral. Each parent demands Thomas pay 10.5 million ISK (94,000 USD/88,000 EUR) in damages.

The maximum sentence for murder in Iceland is life or 16 years in prison. Thomas has so far denied the charge of having murdered Birna. He has, however, confessed to owning 23.4 kg (51.6 lbs) of pressed hashish which was found on board the trawler. 


Iceland Magazine coverage of the case

Iceland magazine covered the case in detail as it unfolded in January. You can read our previous coverage here:


Tuesday Feb 7

Thomas Møller had previously been acquitted of raping an unconscious woman in Greenland

Read more: Man in custody suspected of murdering 20 year old local girl has previously been accused of rape

The cause of death, other disturbing details about Birna's death revealed. 

Read more: Birna's cause of death was drowning. Body was found naked

Monday Feb 6

Police has reportedly pieced together what happened on Saturday January 14.

Read more: Police believe they know when, where and how Birna was killed: Suspect in custody yet to confess

Search for clues near the place where Birna's body was found turns up empty

Read more: Case of Birna Brjánsdóttir: Hundreds participated in search for clues over the weekend

Thursday Feb 2

Police now believes only one of the men originally arrested on connection to Birna's disappearance is responsible for her death.

Read more: One of two men held in connection to murder of Birna Brjánsdóttir released from custody

Monday Jan 30: 

Thousands participate in a memorial service for Birna

Read more: Video: A large crowd gathered in Reykjavík on Saturday to remember Birna Brjánsdóttir

Wednesday Jan 25:

More details emerge of what happened during the hours leading up to Birna's disappearance

Read more: One of the men suspected of killing Birna made repeated phone calls to an Icelandic friend during the fateful night

Tuesday Jan 24:

Police found Birna's ID on board the Greenlandic trawler.

Read more: Police found murdered girl’s ID on board Greenlandic trawler: Suspects interrogated today

The identity of the two suspects revealed by local media.

Read more: The identity of the two men suspected of murdering 20 year old Birna Brjánsdóttir revealed

Monday Jan 23:

Many unanswered questions despite the discovery of Birna's body 

Read more: Everything we know about the disappearance and death of Birna Brjánsdóttir: Still many unanswered questions

Sunday Jan 22:

Birna's body was found eight days after she was discovered missing.

Read more: Body of missing girl found: All evidence points to murder by two Greenlandic fishermen

Friday Jan 20

More details about the drug find on-board the Greenlandic trawler.

Read more: Forensic search of Greenlandic trawler: 20-40 kg (44-88 lbs) of hash blocks found

Police believes the two men held in custody are responsible for the murder of Birna.

Read more: Two sailors from Greenlandic trawler suspected of murder, search for missing girl continues

Greenlandic Foreign Minister postpones visit to Norway while the search for Birna continues.

Read more: Greenlandic Foreign Minister postpones visit to Norway due to disappearance of local girl

Thursday Jan 19

Police discover large quantities of drugs on-board the trawler, arresting a fourth man. 

Read more: Fourth man arrested after large quantities of drugs discovered on board Greenlandic trawler 

Police reveals that evidence from the a red Kia Rio the sailors had rented from Friday to Saturday pointed to a violent crime.

Read more: Missing girl: Evidence from car rented by crew members of Greenlandic trawler points to a crime

More arrests on-board the ship, which arrived in harbour at 23:07 on Wednesday

Read more: Video: Third sailor on Greenlandic trawler arrested and taken for questioning over missing girl

Wednesday Jan 18

Police arrested two men on board the trawler.

Read more: Two arrested on-board Greenlandic trawler in connection to missing girl

Police officers and members of the Police Special Forces were flown out to the Danish Coast Guard vessel HDMS Triton which was on intercept course with the Polar Nanoq.

Read more: Missing girl: Members of the Police Special Forces on their way to Greenlandic trawler

The case has gripped the Icelandic nation. Police warns people to avoid of "hysteria".

Read more: Airing of British TV series The Missing postponed while search continues for missing girl

Security camera footage from Hafnarfjörður harbour shows crew members exiting the red Kia Rio, behaving suspiciously. The trawler was returned to harbour in Reykjavík.

Read more: Missing girl: Disturbing clues, no arrests, but Greenlandic trawler returned to harbour in Iceland

Tuesday Jan 17

The car was linked to crew members of Greenlandic trawler which had been docked in Hafnarfjörður from Wednesday to Saturday. The trawler had sailed out and was fishing off the east coast of Greenland.

Read more: DEVELOPING: Car linked to disappearance of young local woman connected crew of a trawler from Greenland

Tuesday afternoon Police found what it believes is the red Kia Rio seen in security camera footage just seconds before she was last spotted on CCTV footage in down town Reykjavík. The car was likely driven by foreign nationals. The driver is seen behaving suspiciously shortly after Birna's cell phone is turned off at 5:50 AM.

Read more: Missing woman: Car seen in surveillance tapes likely found, driver seen behaving strangely

Shoes which match those worn by Birna were found early Tuesday morning in Hafnafjörður, south of Reykjavík. Police does not rule out the shoes were planted at the scene. All available Police and Search and Rescue members are searching in and around Hafnafjörður harbour.

Read more: Police does not rule out that pair of shoes believed to belong to missing woman were planted

Police released CCTV footage of Birna walking in downtown Reykjavík on Monday.

Read more: Search for missing young woman: Police releases footage from surveillance cameras

Monday Jan 16

A large scale search had been underway since Saturday for 20 year old local woman. Police feared foul play.

Read more: Young local woman missing since Saturday: Have you seen her?


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