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 to add war crimes to criminal code

Denmark is to give international war crimes a specific paragraph in its criminal code, ending its position as one of the last European countries not to have specific laws on war crimes.

Denmark to add war crimes to criminal code

The government confirmed on Tuesday that it supports a motion by the opposition Socialist People’s Party (SF) to introduce a war crimes paragraph.

“I think it’s important to say first and foremost that war crimes are already illegal in Danish criminal law,” Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard told news wire Ritzau.

“It is not written in as specific clauses in the criminal law, but all offences that are war crimes are criminal,” he said.

“But with all that said, I think that SF has an important point in saying that the time has now come for us to introduce an independent criminalisation of war crimes. I think that would send out an important message to the world, and especially to victims,” he said.

“I will therefore, when the motion is discussed tomorrow [Tuesday, ed.] say, that the government backs criminalising war crimes independently under Danish law,” he said.

Hummelgaard plans to initiate a committee to look into how laws against war crimes can be written and added to the criminal code.

The committee will also consider whether sentences for war crimes should be higher than existing sentences given from crimes such as murder and torture.