THE NEWS: Iceland's former prime minister rejected charges he failed to adequately protect his country's economy from financial shocks as he took the stand in the first criminal trial of a world leader to result from the 2008 financial crisis.

THE DEFENSE: Haarde said Monday neither he nor financial regulators knew the precarious state of Icelandic banks until they collapsed in October 2008.

THE BACKGROUND: Haarde became a symbol of the bubble economy for Icelanders who lost their jobs and homes after the country's main commercial banks collapsed over one week in 2008, sending its currency into a nosedive and inflation soaring.