Shakespeare memorably described music as ‘the food of love’, but Copenhagen Police must have got something stuck in its throat when its officers arrested a 63-year-old Romanian playing his accordion outside a Nyhavn restaurant and charged him under the new begging offences act.
The man was initially acquitted at Copenhagen City Court, but the prosecution appealed and the Østre Landsret high court has now sentenced the Romanian to 14 days imprisonment, reports DR Nyheder.
You must keep your hat on
After playing them a merry tune, the man approached the restaurant guests with his soft hat, and that was enough to trigger a begging charge.
In her summing up, the senior prosecutor, Rikke Jensen, described this as “intrusive behaviour”.
In the initial acquittal the city court relied on a judgment from 1934 in which a man accused of beggary, who was playing the accordion for money in the courtyard of a Copenhagen block of flats, was acquitted.
A pyrrhic victory
The Romanian’s defence lawyer asked the high court rhetorically “should a Danish conservatory-trained girl playing the violin on Strøget also be arrested?”
But the prosecution would not be swayed. The woman and her violin and other street musicians just have a box on the ground in front of them, the prosecutor argued. They are not actively seeking out people and approaching them for money as the Romanian did.
The 63-year-old was not in court to hear the verdict as he is ill with diabetes and high blood pressure back home in Romania. He sent a medical certificate to that effect, but the high court allowed the case to proceed.