Denmark tightens prison security after murderer’s escape

Denmark's justice ministry on Monday announced tighter security measures after lapses at the high-security prison holding convicted murderer Peter Madsen meant he almost escaped last month.

Denmark tightens prison security after murderer’s escape
Denmark's Herstedvester Prison. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

As well as increasing security at Herstedvester, near Copenhagen, the ministry announced inspections at prisons across the country and the recruitment of several specialists to reinforce the regime at other high-security jails.

The changes came after Madsen, jailed for life for the 2017 murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall when she went to interview him on board his homemade submarine, briefly broke out of Herstedvester Prison on October 20th.

During the break-out, 49-year-old Madsen used a fake explosives belt to threaten a prison psychologist.

Although he was only free for a few minutes before police surrounded him, the fact he managed to get that far meant that security was not good enough, said a ministry statement.

Prison officials had not been sufficiently aware of Madsen's willingness to plan and carry out serious crimes to make his escape, said the statement.

Madsen had been allowed unsupervised access to a workshop and, unaccompanied by staff, had been able to smuggle out the fake devices he used for his escape, said Justice Minister Nick Hækkerup.

A prison service report into the incident said Madsen had been allowed to move about inside the prison with a backpack without being challenged by guards.

Security has been stepped up in several blocks of the prison. Prisoners now have to carry all their personal effects in transparent bags and there is increased video-surveillance.

Since his escape bid, Madsen and five other prisoners have been transferred to another prison, the location of which has not been made public.

READ ALSO: How did Danish submarine murderer escape from prison and what are the consequences?

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Denmark jails IS ‘wife’ for three years

A 35-year-old Danish woman was sentenced on Friday to three years in prison for entering Syria and promoting the Islamic State (IS) group's activities, prosecutors in Denmark said.

Denmark jails IS 'wife' for three years

During the mother of five’s trial, the prosecutor had argued that wives were a key part of IS.

“Even if you did not actively participate in the fighting, we assert that you can support the terrorist organisation by shopping in its supermarkets, by taking care of the children, by being a housewife,” prosecutor Trine Schjodt
Fogh said.

The woman, who pleaded guilty, was convicted of “having promoted the activities of IS, in particular by acting as the housewife and wife of a person who was active in the terrorist organisation,” the prosecution authority said in a statement.

She was also found guilty of having “entered and resided in al-Raqqa district in Raqqa province and Deir al-Zour province in Syria, which were defined as conflict zones during the period”.

The  woman, who is originally from the west of Denmark, arrived in Syria eight years ago, a journey she “bitterly” regrets, her lawyer Mette Gith Stage told news agency Ritzau.

“The last few years have been difficult for her, first in the caliphate, then in a prison camp and now in prison. She misses her children terribly and is eager for the case to end so that she and her children can move on,” the
lawyer said.

In October 2021, Denmark removed three women and 14 children from the Kurdish-controlled Roj camp in north-eastern Syria in a joint operation with Germany.

The three women were arrested on arrival in Denmark and have since been in detention and the trial that just ended marks the first of three.