More demonstrators may receive police compensation

While the police assess whether an additional 250 people qualify for compensation, they continue to dig up background material to justify the arrests of protesters after the fact

Police are to determine whether an additional 232 people pre-emptively arrested during the protests at UN climate conference in December 2009 are to receive compensation for unlwaful detention.

Almost 250 people had their case for compensation against the police upheld by the Eastern High Court after the police appealed against the city court’s verdict. Now, some 232 individuals, both Danes and foreigners, who were not part of the initial suit, may also claim compensation and police are now processing the cases.

If they are successful, the protestors could receive between 2,200 kroner and 10,000 kroner in damages.

During the climate conference, over 2,000 individuals were pre-emptively detained. Some 900 of those detentions came during a single mass arrest.

During demonstration on 13 December 2009, participants had their hands bound and were forced to sit on the road in human chains, wedged between the legs of the person behind them, for hours. Many were forced to sit in other people’s urine.

Police justified the arrest by arguing that in amongst the crowd were a hardcore group of protestors belonging to the a group called the Black Bloc, which earlier in the day had thrown fireworks and stones at the Foreign Ministry.

After police lost the initial case, they appealed to the High Court and began collecting background information on the protestors in order to demonstrate that they were a threat to the peace. The information included details of previous arrests and misdemeanors such as public urination or drunkenness.

The practice was widely condemned and the court ultimately dismissed the information for being irrelevant. The court ruled that information about and individual’s background, not known to the police at the time of the arrest, could not be used to justify the arrest.

Despite this, the police have employed the practice again to justify detaining 66 protestors in Copenhagen on May 18 last year.

The demonstrators were arrested for refusing to give the police their names and social security numbers and were released after several hours with no charge.

Thirty-three have subsequently sued the police for unlawful detention and yesterday their case was taken to court. But according to Politiken newspaper, the police have decided to defend their decision using background information about the individuals, some of which was taken from social networking sites.

According to Politiken, the police’s prosecutor, Maria Cingari, believes the evidence can be used to show that many of the individuals belonged to Black Bloc and were likely to disturb the peace.

Lawyer Christian Dahlager, who represents some of the claimants, said that he could not understand why the police would try and employ the same tactic again after the same type of evidence was thrown out of the High Court in the case of the climate protestors.

“Seeing as the protestors have been cleared of charges, it’s totally unfusitifiable to drag people’s names through the mud in this way,” he told Poltiken. “It’s completely reprehensible.”

The police have also been criticised for potentially breaching data protection laws while amassing the information.

“The point of the police’s case database is for use in ordinary case work and solving crime,” Charlotte Bagger Tranberg told Politiken. “It’s hard to see how the police are using it in that way, when they use the information to defend themselves in a civil case that address the potentially inappropriate behaviour of police. The use of the information then falls outside of its original remit and that violates data protection laws.”





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