International News in Brief: Denmark awards Iraqi prisoners compensation for torture

In other stories, ringleaders arrested in fake marriage scam and Danes still love to go south to shop despite reduced duty on goods at home

The Eastern High Court has ruled that the Danish state bears some responsibility for an incident in which 18 Iraqi civilian prisoners were handed over to their countrymen and subsequently tortured in 2004.

However, the court also ruled that the Danish soldiers who were nearby when the men were taken into custody did not abuse their prisoners, and that they would not be able to know for sure that the prisoners would suffer later, reports DR Nyheder.

In 2004 during a combined operation comprising Danish, British and local forces called ‘Operation Green Desert’, 36 Iraqi civilians were captured. It was proved that Danish soldiers had been in the vicinity when the men were arrested and a video showed one of the prisoners being punched by an Iraqi police militiaman and another kicked.

Seven years later in 2011, 23 Iraqis decided to sue the Danish Defence Ministry as it was argued the Danish state was complicit in what happened during and after Operation Green Desert. Eighteen of the 23 prisoners who brought the case were awarded compensation of 30,000 kroner each.

Police break up sham marriage ring
In a combined operation between Danish and German police, some 300 officers raided 27 locations targeting 34 members of a group suspected of facilitating sham marriages to enable illegal migrants to obtain residence permits through EU citizens, OCCRP reports. Most of the marriages took place on the Danish island of Ærø, where ceremonies cost just 500 kroner and include very little bureaucracy. Members of the group are suspected of migrant smuggling, document forgery, incitement, and assistance to bigamy and bribery. It is alleged they have smuggled in around 1,200 migrants since 2015, charging between 15,000 and 22,000 euros per person.

October trial for Dane in Nigerian murder case
A court has ruled that Peter Nielsen, a 53-year-old Dane charged with murdering his wife and daughter in Nigeria, should remain in custody, reports Nigeria’s Nielsen could face the death penalty for killing his partner, a popular singer, and their child. Nielsen, who has pleaded ‘not guilty’, has agreed to undergo a DNA test on the advice of his counsel. The defence team has also requested the autopsy reports. Presiding judge Justice Okikiolu-Ighile ordered that the defendant be remanded in custody. She then adjourned the case until October 8 and 9 for the commencement of trial.

Border trade booming despite lower duty
Last autumn, the government plus Dansk Folkeparti and Radikale voted on a package of tariff reduction measures designed to reduce the Danish habit of nipping across the border to stock up on cheap alcohol, chocolate, nuts etc. Several of the planned reductions have already been implemented, but according to a number of the main border shops, Danes just don’t care, reports DR Nyheder. The tax minister, Karsen Lauritzen, is not worried, however. “It takes a little while for these reductions to kick in. I don’t think the person in the street is aware we’ve halved the tax on nuts and decided to remove it,” said the minister. “That’s why they’re still going south to buy nuts, beer and fizzy drinks,” added Lauritzen.

Danish civil servant scoops top OECD job
Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen, a department head at the Danish Foreign Ministry, is set to take up a new post in the economic co-operation and development organ OECD, reports Politiken. The 49-year-old Dane, a well-known figure in the organisation as Denmark’s OECD ambassador from 2008-2009 and a member of its global strategy group, will become the new deputy secretary general. The contract is for two years and will see Knudsen leave his current post at the end of 2018.