Denmark releases three suspected over burning of PM effigy

The Danish high court on Monday released from custody three men who are suspected of making threats in a case relating to an effigy of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen that was hung up during anti-lockdown protests.

Denmark releases three suspected over burning of PM effigy
An effigy of PM Mette Frederiksen -- with the words 'she can and must be culled' -- burns in Copenhagen in January. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

A lawyer for one of the men, Ulrik Sjølin, confirmed their release to news wire Ritzau.

The three men have been detained in custody since January 24th and 25th, and their eight-week detention was a factor in the decision to release them.

READ ALSO: Denmark detains third man over burning of prime minister effigy

After a city court in Frederiksberg approved their release on Friday, the higher court upheld that decision following an appeal from the prosecutor.

The three men are suspected of making threats after an effigy of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was hung from a lamp post and burned during protests against coronavirus restrictions in January.

The effigy, on which a picture of Frederiksen’s face was affixed along with a sign bearing the words “she must and shall be culled”, was set on fire during protests in which around 1,000 people took part. The words are ostensibly in reference to the prime minister’s management of the outbreak of mutated coronavirus in mink in November 2020.

Police have not yet clarified who set fire to the effigy.

In addition to being suspected of making threats, the three men are also under suspicion under Danish law’s paragraph 113, which protects against attacks on the government and can give up to 16 years in prison. It is the milder misdemeanour – making threats – for which they were remanded in custody.

They could also be punished under an amendment which provides for harsher punishments for certain crimes committed in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

The three have admitted to hanging the effigy from a lamppost during the January disturbances in Copenhagen but denied setting it alight.

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IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?

The number of new Covid-19 infections fell on Saturday for the second day in a row, following a three-day plateau at the start of last week. Has the omicron wave peaked?

IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?
Graffiti in the Copenhagen hippy enclave of Christiania complaining of Omicron's impact on Christmas. Photo: Philip Davali/Scanpix

How many cases, hospitalisations and deaths are there in Denmark? 

Denmark registered 12,588 new cases in the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, down from the 18,261 registered on in the day leading up to Friday at 2pm, which was itself a decline from the record 28,283 cases recorded on Wednesday. 

The cases were identified by a total of 174,517 PCR tests, bringing the positive percentage to 7.21 percent, down from the sky high rates of close to 12 percent seen in the first few days of January. 

The number of cases over the past seven days is lower than the week before in almost every municipality in Denmark, with only Vallensbæk, Aarhus, Holseterbro, Skanderborg, Hjørring, Vordingborg,  Ringkøbing, Kolding, Assens, Horsens, Thisted, and Langeland reporting rises. 

Hospitalisations have also started to fall, with some 730 patients being treated for Covid-10 on Saturday, down from 755 on Friday. On Tuesday, 794 were being treated for Covid-19 in Danish hospitals, the highest number since the peak of the 2020-21 winter wave.

The only marker which has not yet started to fall is the number of deaths, which tends to trail infections and hospitalisations. 

In the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, Denmark registered 28 deaths with Covid-19, the highest daily number recorded since 20 January 2021, when 29 people died with Covid-19 (although Denmark’s deadliest day was the 19 January 2021, when 39 people died). 

How does Denmark compare to other countries in Europe? 

Over the last seven days, Denmark has had the highest Covid-19 case rate of any country in Europe bar Ireland. The number of new infections in the country has climbed steadily since the start of December, apart from a brief fall over Christmas. 

So does this mean the omicron wave has peaked? 

Maybe, although experts are not sure. 

“Of course, you can hope for that, but I’m not sure that is the case,” said Christian Wejse, head of the Department for Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital. “I think it is too early to conclude that the epidemic has peaked.”

He said that patients with the Omicron variant were being discharged more rapidly on average than had been the case with those who had the more dangerous Delta variant. 

“Many admissions are relatively short-lived, thankfully. This is because many do not become that il, and are largely hospitalized because they are suffering with something else. And if they are stable and do not need oxygen, then they are quickly discharged again.” 

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a visit to an event held by the Social Liberal party that the latest numbers made her even more optimistic about the coming month. 

“We have lower infection numbers and the number of hospitalisations is also plateauing,” she said. “I think we’re going to get through this winter pretty well, even if it will be a difficult time for a lot of people, and we are beginning to see the spring ahead of us, so I’m actually very optimistic.” 

She said that she had been encouraged by the fact that Omicron was a “visibly less dangerous variant if it is not allowed to explode.”