In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, one country stood out: Iceland was the one nation in the world which not only let its banks fail, but convicted the bankers responsible for the collapse of the country's financial system (incidentally, since then Iceland has been one of the world's economic success stories, with the economy growing over 7% last year). Now, nearly a decade later, Iceland's ex-bankers, once reviled as symbols of crony and rogue capitalism, say they were scapegoats: and having been "improperly" jailed for their roles in the 2008 financial crisis, they're now taking their cases to the European Court of Human Rights.
In 2008, after Iceland's inflated financial system imploded, the three main banks Kaupthing, Glitnir, and Landsbanki collapsed. The government urgently nationalized them, then asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an emergency bailout, a first for a western European country in 25 years. The crisis brought to light the bankers' questionable practices, often involving artificially inflating the value of the banks' assets by providing cheap loans to shareholders to buy even more shares in the bank. Thousands of Icelanders had thus placed their life savings in a house of cards.