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UPDATED: Police misconduct investigation to be reopened after criticism
UPDATE (13/8/12, 16:07) After suffering criticism for being unable to identify policemen accused of mistreating a terror suspect, the Copenhagen Police's public prosecutor has now stated she will reopen the case.
"We are reopening the case and are asking Copenhagen Police to tell us whether, based on the new circumstances, it is possible to identify some of the people we have yet to identify," the police public prosecutor for Copenhagen and Bornholm, Lise-Lotte Nilas, told Ritzau.
After initially stating that she was unable to identify some of the policemen involved, it came to light that some of the policemen involved in the operation were never interviewed despite having their names delivered to the public prosecutor.
ORIGINAL STORY (08/09/12, 12:28) Confusion over a name was enough for a young couple and an elderly woman to get arrested on suspicion of terrorism during the COP15 climate conference in 2009.
The police soon realised its mistake and released all of them, but only after subjecting the man to hours of demeaning treatment in a police van.
The couple subsequently complained, but after two and half years the Copenhagen Police’s public prosecutor, Lise-Lotte Nilas, has had to suspend the case against the police officers as she cannot identify who they are.
The police’s inability to account for which officers were in the back of the van with the man, who is referred to as 'Muhammed' in the press, is even more surprising given that a photograph of the policemen escorting him into the van has been published.
“It has unfortunately not been possible to identify the people in the cell van,” Nilas wrote.
Muhammed was stopped by police on his way to an apartment that he was employed to empty of it contents. He was arrested when the name of one of the men he had taken with him to do the job was mistaken for that of an international terrorist.
Muhammed was placed in the back of a police van with several police officers, who he claims spoke offensively to him. They also denied him access to a toilet and forced him to urinate into plastic bottles – in the process, he ended up urinating on himself.
His wife was also arrested in their apartment, while a 61-year-old woman was arrested in the apartment that Muhammed had been employed to clear.
Nilas criticised the behaviour of the police in her conclusion of the case.
“I must add that I don’t think the behaviour that was described […] was correct behaviour by the police force. I find it objectionable and unfortunate that a policeman has behaved in this way."
Speaking to Politiken newspaper, Muhammed’s wife, who did not want to be identified, also criticised the findings.
“We experienced a nightmare when we were arrested and suspected of being terrorists. When the police recognise that they have made a mistake, it is frightening that they can get away with saying they don’t know who they were. I can’t help but think that they are covering for each other.”
The head of the police federation Politiforbund, Peter Ibsen, added that the case shone a bad light on the police force.
“It’s clearly not good enough. It may have been an extreme situation during the climate conference, but they should always be able to account for their actions,” Ibsen told Politiken. “I find it so hard to believe that the leadership in such a spectacular case cannot account for who is doing what.”
The police were forced to pay compensation to hundreds of protesters after the Eastern High Court ruled that a mass arrest during the conference was illegal.