Denmark can enforce jetski ban after fatal accident: MP

A spokesperson for Denmark’s governing Venstre (Liberal) party says that police can enforce a law against the use of jetskis in harbours, after an accident involving the high-speed water bikes claimed two lives Saturday.

Denmark can enforce jetski ban after fatal accident: MP
Flowers laid in memorial near the Langebro bridge in Copenhagen, close to the scene of the jetski accident in which two American students lost their lives. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Scanpix

Following the accident, in which a jetski collided with a rented boat in Copenhagen harbour, killing two American exchange students, the Danish People’s Party (DF) claimed that Denmark had been forced into withdrawing its ban on jetskis by an EU Court ruling.

An EU ruling from 2009 forced Denmark to allow the use of jetskis, said DF’s EU spokesperson Kenneth Kristensen Berth.

“It is problematic that rules for the common market are used to decide that extent to which jetskis are allowed in Denmark, Berth told TV2.

Berth cited a 2009 ruling on jetskis in Sweden which led to Denmark’s high court finding in 2010 that it was against EU rules to prohibit jetskis, leading in turn to a rule change in 2012.

But Venstre’s EU spokesperson Jan E. Jørgensen said that existing rules were sufficient to protect such accidents, providing they are enforced.

“As far as I can see, what happened at Copenhagen Harbour is already prohibited now. The enforcement of these rules must be ensured. It makes no sense to forbid something that has already been forbidden,” Jørgensen told news agency Ritzau.

“We can forbid jetskis from sailing into harbours and close to beaches,” Jørgensen added.

Sailing on jetskis is forbidden within 300 metres from the coast as well as in national park areas, reports Politiken.

Within this distance the maximum speed is designated as five knots – approximately 9 kilometres per hour.

The group involved in Saturday’s accident rode their jetskis at speeds of up to 90 kilometres per hour, according to drone footage filmed near the time of the accident which was subsequently sent to police, according to Ekstra Bladet.

This is denied by the jetski riders themselves, although one did estimate that they travelled at up to 50 kilometres per hour.

An umbrella association for businesses and organisations connected to Copenhagen Harbour has meanwhile promised to voluntarily monitor and report dangerous use of jetskis in the harbour.

“[We] had a committee meeting Monday. The idea with monitoring is to give the police and other authorities the best chance of intervening,” Hans Christian Hansen of HavneForum København told Ritzau.

“We must do everything we can to help prevent anything like this happening again. Things must come under control now,” Hansen added.

But justice minister Søren Pape Poulsen said that he is unable to promise more police in Denmark’s harbours due to limited resources, reports newspaper Politiken.

Carl Christian Ebbesen, a representative for DF and head of Copenhagen Municipality’s culture and free time committee, called for number plates to be required on jetskis following Saturday’s accident.

A 24-year-old man has been charged with double manslaughter, recklessly endangering lives and leaving the scene of an accident following the jetski crash in Copenhagen Harbour Saturday.

Seven other people who were also riding jetskis in the harbour at the time of the accident have been charged with putting others in danger by riding the jetskis at excessively high speeds.

Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen offered his condolences over the deaths of the two American students to US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during the latter’s visit in Copenhagen Tuesday, reports TV2