Restaurateur released but arson and fraud charges remain

Police said Amin Skov could not explain burns on his clothes and allege the restaurateur had a financial motive for burning down his restaurant

Restaurateur Amin Skov was released on Wednesday after being questioned and presented in court where he was charged with arson and insurance fraud.

Skov rose to national prominence due to his battle with the trade union 3F over his choice to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with his employees that gave them lower wages. A blockade of his restaurant carried out by 3F led to economic losses for Skov.

The Kolding City Court allowed the charges to stand but released the 34-year-old, who told journalists outside the court after he was arrested earlier and charged with setting fire to his own restaurant that he was devastated by the charges.

“This has been one of the worst days of my life,” Skov said. “My world seemed to crumble when I was arrested.”

He added that the police had treated him fairly but that he couldn’t understand the reason for the arrest "both because I am innocent and because they haven’t found any new evidence in the past few days".

"Why would they suddenly choose to arrest me? Why didn’t they wait until the technical evidence was ready?” he asked the assembled press.

In court, police admitted that they were still waiting for some evidence to be ready, including the results of DNA tests and investigations into Skov's computer.

It was revealed in court that police had tapped his phone for twenty days without a warrant after he was found unconscious and injured outside his restaurant on December 21.

The law says the police can start a phone tap when they need to but they must secure a warrant within 24 hours. Police allege this wasn’t possible, however, because courts were on holiday and didn’t have time to consider the warrant until January 9.

Police stated the phone tap yielded no evidence against Skov and that they were investigating whether the phone tap was illegal.

While Skov maintains his innocence, the prosecutor argues that he remains the only suspect and that there are holes in his story.

Firstly, the traces of ethanol and petrol that were found Skov’s clothes when he was found unconscious were too fresh to have come from spillage when Skov claims occurred several days before when he refilled a cleaning machine.

Skov also alleges that he was assaulted by two individuals but police, with the help of technicians and dogs, were not able to find any trace of his alleged assailants.

While he did bear injuries to his face, police say the injuries are not typical of those associated with being hit by an assailant or by an instrument.

Skov could also provide no adequate explanation for why his hair was singed or why there were burns on his clothes.

Skov has claimed that he had no motive to burn down his restaurant despite being in debt because he could not benefit from insurance claims due to the fact that he does not own the building.

The police allege, however, that Skov had an 800,000 kroner insurance policy covering the restaurant's contents, and a 1.6 million kroner coverage plan that would cover lost earnings. According to the police, Skov could claim about 500,000 kroner from these two policies.

Finally, police could not find an adequate explanation for why Skov left two doors unlocked in the building despite normally keeping the building secure, or how he would not have heard his assailants approach before they allegedly struck him and set fire to the building.

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