Best of Slow Journalism: The Reykjavik Confessions

AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

In 1975, six people in Iceland confessed to the murders of two men whose bodies were never found. Not one of them remembers the murders.

“We are going to help you recall everything and you will not be able to leave here until you tell us what happened,” the police told young Erla Bolladottir, whose boyfriend they hoped to prove guilty.

After one of the biggest murder investigations the country had ever seen, Erla and the five other suspects admitted to the murders. Almost 40 years on, a new government investigation shows the confessions to be unreliable and a campaign has been launched to overturn the convictions.

The BBC’s long-form piece ‘The Reykjavik Confessions’ investigates what really happened in Iceland’s imposing, cavernous landscape, and how it is possible to get six people to admit to murders of which they have no recollection.

Simon Cox speaks to the convicts, their families, the police and psychologists, guiding us through the mysterious events as they unfolded.

The BBC has presented Cox’s story exceptionally well, as an immersive experience that flicks seamlessly between text, video and stunning photographs, which morph and change size as you scroll. This multimedia piece is one of 11 recently commissioned by Giles Wilson, features editor for BBC News Online.

It is one of the most fascinating, beautifully-presented stories we have seen this year. We suggest you take your time to enjoy it on the biggest screen you have available. You can find the story here.

Words: Victoria Seabrook

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