INGER Stoejberg, who served as integration minister from 2015 to 2019, at a warehouse in Copenhagen on Thursday.—AP
INGER Stoejberg, who served as integration minister from 2015 to 2019, at a warehouse in Copenhagen on Thursday.—AP

COPENHAGEN: A former Danish immigration minister insisted she was innocent on Thursday at the opening of her impeachment trial on charges of illegally separating couples who arrived in the country to claim asylum.

The 26 judges of the special court, which only convenes to try former or current members of government, will determine whether Inger Stojberg violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

Law professor Frederik Waage pointed out that it was only the third such case in more than a century, calling it “historic”.

Without examining the cases individually, Stojberg ordered the separation of 23 couples in 2016 where the woman was under 18 — even though the couples’ age difference was mostly small and some had children.

Prosecutors have also accused of her “lying to or misleading” parliamentary committees when informing them of her decision, though that was not listed as a charge on the indictment read out in court. The 48-year-old ex-minister denies any wrongdoing.

She is due to testify from Sept 13. The court has scheduled a total of 36 days for hearings.

Stojberg did not address the court on Thursday, but told reporters afterwards that the prosecution came up with nothing new to prove her guilt.

“I know exactly what I said and what I did. That is why we are seeking an acquittal,” she said. “Nothing new was presented today.” Stojberg repeatedly made international headlines over immigration issues during her 2015-2019 tenure as minister in the previous Liberal-led government. She has since quit her party but remains a lawmaker.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2021

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