Danish anti-lockdown protester begs for cut to two-year jail sentence

A Danish woman who was jailed for her part in an anti-lockdown protest in Copenhagen, tearfully begged a high court on Monday to significantly reduce her sentence.

Danish anti-lockdown protester begs for cut to two-year jail sentence
Members of the anti-lockdown Men in Black group outside Copenhagen District Court. Photo:Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

The woman, who was jailed for two years had called on the crowd through a megaphone to “smash the city in a non-violent way”.

“If I’d wanted to incite people to something, I would have been the world’s worst instigator, since I also told people to stay calm,” she told the court on Monday when the defence lawyer Henrik Plæhn asked her what she had shouted in the megaphone. “I didn’t think that there was anything problematic in any of the things I shouted.”

The 31-year-old made her speech at a Copenhagen demonstration organised by the Men in Black anti-lockdown group in January, which later descended into violence, with 16 police officers being hit by stones, cans and other objects thrown by demonstrators.

After she was convicted in March of “incitement to violence”, she received a double punishment under clause 81d, a new part of the penal code reserved for offences which have “a background in or connection with the Covid 19 epidemic in Denmark”.


Kristian Hegaard, legal spokesman for the Social Liberal, criticised the sentence as unworthy of a democratic country.

“The clause for coronavirus-related crimes should never have been made,” he wrote on Twitter in March. “It is absolutely insane to receive double punishment for criticism of coronavirus policy. One should not fear double punishment for demonstrating against the government, not in a state governed by the rule of law.

The woman told the court that her four months in Vestre Prison, Copenhagen’s main jail, had been tough, adding that she especially missed her two young children.

In the high court, the prosecution played several new video sequences, which had not been shown in the district court, to underline the extent to which the woman had incited and encouraged violence against police officers.

The woman was the first to be convicted under the coronavirus clause for anything other than financial fraud.

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Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.