Hammer attack leads to rare hate crime conviction

An attack on a trans-woman in central Copenhagen this summer has led to a successful conviction on hate crime charges

An attack on a trans-woman that occurred over the summer in central Copenhagen led to a successful hate crime conviction on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old assailant, referred to only as AH in the media, was found guilty of attacking 48-year-old Cecilie Mundt with a hammer near the Town Hall Square on the afternoon of June 4.

AH brought the hammer down on the back of Mundt’s head with such force that it detached a nine square centimetre section of her skull.

Long-term impact
According to Politiken newspaper, Mundt says she suffers from problems related to sleeping, speaking and mobility following the attack, and is still afraid to walk in the city alone.

Despite these issues, she showed up at court to hear the verdict against AH.

“I feel good because justice won and the assailant has been convicted of a hate crime,” she told Politiken. “I don’t know him, but that is what he did to me.”

Denies hate motivation
AH explained in court that he approached Mundt in Copenhagen Central Station and, thinking she was a man, asked her why she was dressed the way she was.

He says that Mundt then racially abused him, which made him angry and led him to follow her several hundred metres and then attack her.

The jury did not agree with AH’s version of events, however, and they found him guilty of both a hate crime and grievous bodily harm (GBH).

Tough sentence
The hate crime law has been on the books since 2005 and allowed the judge in this case to set a much stiffer sentence than if AH had only been found guilty of GBH. He will be sentenced on October 24 following a psychological evaluation.  

According to the tabloid Ekstra Bladet, AH has been convicted on two previous occasions for assault. In 2009 he received a 60-day suspended sentence and in 2011 he was sentenced to four months in prison.

According to the domestic intelligence agency PET, the number of reported sexually-motivated hate crimes rose from 23 in 2011 to 33 in 2012.

Hate crime convictions are rare in Denmark. A 2011 report by the national human rights organisation Institut for Menneske Rettigheder lists only a handful of other hate crime cases since the legislation went into effect.

NOTE: This story was updated at 14:10 after discovering the Institut for Menneske Rettigheder report that contradicted Politiken's report that this was the first hate crime conviction.