Celebrity chef under fire for giving job to attempted murderer

The victim of a violent attempted murder says that her attacker has been given more opportunities than she has

A celebrity chef’s hiring of an attempted murderer, whose victim is still recovering from the attack three years on, has sparked a national debate about the opportunities given to criminals returning to society.

29-year-old Marlene Duus was savagely beaten with a metal pipe and thrown out of the window of her third floor apartment by her jealous ex-boyfriend, 43-year-old Frank Saksik (pictured below), who also leapt out of the window in a suicide attempt.

They both survived, and while Saksik was sentenced to six years in prison for attempted murder, Duus had to endure over 20 operations and extensive therapy. It took her a year and a half just to be able to walk again and her injuries brought her modelling career to an end.

But after serving only two years of his sentence, Sakskik was released and secured himself a trainee position at the bakery of renowned chef Claus Meyer, a key figure in the New Nordic Cuisine movement.

Duus, on the other hand, is still recovering from her injuries and is unable to work. She has also yet to receive any compensation because the government disputes her doctor’s claim that she is 50 percent disabled. If she is only deemed to be 10 percent disabled, as the government argues, she cannot claim any free education or job training.

In an editorial Duus wrote for Politiken newspaper on Monday – which sparked a media frenzy – she expressed anger that her attacker was being given more opportunities than she was.

“We ought to first help the victim, then help the offender. In Denmark, it is sadly the other way around,” Duus wrote. “I live in fear because I know that the system allows a violent criminal to walk around freely. He has been given a coveted trainee position ahead of many law abiding competitors simply because he is a criminal and needs help. How far should you go to help a man convicted of attempted murder?”

Meyer is involved in a programme known as High:Five, which involves his taking former inmates on as trainees at his bakeries in Copenhagen.

After well over 100 comments were left on Duus's editorial, and tabloid Ekstra Bladet began covering every detail of the story, Meyer replied to Duus in an open letter published in Politiken, which expressed sympathy with her position.

“I understand your frustration that you have been left in the lurch by a system which gives the perpetrator a job while you can’t be reschooled because of a disagreement between public bodies and doctors,” Meyer wrote, before defending his decision to hire Sakskik.

“Judges deliver the punishment and the prison service sees it through. What we do, where we can, is rehabilitate. We reach out to people who have committed crimes, served their punishments and have a hard time being given another chance in society. In doing so, we hope that as a business we can contribute to reducing criminality in the future.”

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