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Iceland's Prime Minister Geir Haarde talks during a press conference in Reykjavik on October 9, 2008, during the financial crisis. - 

Jeremy Hobson: Now to Iceland, which you may remember suffered a total financial collapse back in 2008. And today, the country's former prime minister goes on trial for his role in it.

Marketplace's Stephen Beard reports.

Stephen Beard: Geir Haarde stands accused of criminal negligence. It’s alleged that his government bungled by allowing the Icelandic banks to grow too big  When they collapsed in 2008, Iceland’s  economy was plunged into deep recession. When he appeared in court this morning, Geir Haarde denounced the trial as politically motivated.

Thorstein Pallsson, himself a former prime minister agrees.

Thorstein Pallsson: I think most people regard it as a political charge against the former Prime Minister.

If found guilty Haarde could get up two years in jail. Legal experts say he’ll likely beat the charges.

But the trial will explore an interesting question: Who was  most to blame for the financial crisis -- the banks that inflated the credit bubble, or the politicians and officials who stood by watching the bubble grow?

In London, I’m Stephen Beard for Marketplace.