Legality of police investigations of protestors questioned

Lawyers question relevance and legality of information gathered about over 2,000 individuals at the 2009 UN climate conference


Danish police have collected background information about a further 1,300 individuals linked to those pre-emptively arrested during the 2009 UN climate conference, Information newspaper revealed today.

The police are currently appealing last year’s verdict by Copenhagen City Court – brought by 178 of the 944 pre-emptively arrested individuals – that found the police action to be illegal and granted compensation to the protestors.

To support their case, the police compiled a 1,000-page document comprised of incriminating information about the pre-emptively arrested protestors, including details of their contact with police and their acquaintances on social networking sites.

This document was revealed at the start of the case, but when the case resumed yesterday after a four-week break, Information revealed that the personal details of a further 1,300 individuals were also submitted as evidence.

Details included the national identification numbers, birthdays and nationalities of individuals who were not part of the pre-emptive arrest and have not participated in the original compensation case levelled against the police.

In gathering the information, the police have been hoping to show that many of the arrested individuals were connected to militant political groups who have been known to participate in violent protests.

Of the 178 individuals who sued for illegal arrest, the police say 37 have “been charged and/or in contact with police” in connection with arson, violence, illegally wearing a mask during a demonstration and for disturbing the peace.

But lawyers for many of those who brought the initial case against the police believe that the backgrounds of those arrested do not provide sufficient justification for their arrest. 

The lawyers, Knud Foldshack and Christian Dahlager, argue both that the police can only justify a mass arrest based on a concrete fear of disruption of the public peace and that the policeÂ’s subsequent investigations may be a breach of data protection laws.

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