CPH Post

Immigration & Denmark

Kurdish family claim length of son's sentence is unprecedented and fuelled by racism

Father on hunger strike to protest against court's decision to imprison 17-year-old for a decade for complicity in a fatal stabbing

Family claim that the Danish legal system is unbalanced and so impartial that it is racist (photo: Colourbox)

May 15, 2014

by Emily Shaw

Last October, police arrived at Høje-Taastrup Station in response to reports of a fight. They found 19-year-old Ricko Træholt there, dead from stab wounds to the chest and neck.

Hikmet Sahbaz, 17, and Turgay Yacin, 20, were eventually taken into custody for their involvement in the fatal stabbing of Træholt, as well as the non-fatal stabbing of Træholt’s 16-year-old friend.

Sahbaz admitted that he was involved in the fight and at the scene when the crime occurred, but maintains that he only hit Træholt with a blunt object and never stabbed him.

However, last week the boys were awarded double-digit sentences. Yacin got 14 years for manslaughter and Sahbaz ten years for complicity.

Sahbaz’s family and members of the international community see his decade-long sentence as an example of Danish xenophobic attitudes and have criticised Denmark’s legal system.

While Sahbaz was born and raised in Denmark, he is of Kurdish descent, and many think this may have played a role in his conviction and harsh sentencing.

Father on hunger strike
Sahbaz’s father, Ali Riza Sahbaz, has taken it upon himself to openly protest against the ruling by going on a public hunger strike at Høje-Taastrup Station.

The sign he keeps beside him reads: "I do not trust the Danish legal system. My son has been singled out as a victim.” 

"The most important thing right now is my son," he told Rudaw. "Our son is a victim, like the boy Ricko Træholt who was killed."

Sahbaz’s aunt, Meliha Kuscu, agrees.

"Hikmet has received punishment that Danish teenagers have not received in preceding cases," she told the Anadolu Agency.

"[He has] received a penalty despite not committing the murder; we see this as racist action.”

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