Denmark’s PM Frederiksen assaulted in central Copenhagen, man arrested

Published June 8, 2024
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen gives her Constitution Day speech during the parliament’s celebration of the constitution in the Landsting Hall in Copenhagen, Denmark, June 5. — Reuters
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen gives her Constitution Day speech during the parliament’s celebration of the constitution in the Landsting Hall in Copenhagen, Denmark, June 5. — Reuters

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen walked away following an assault by a man in central Copenhagen on Friday and had no outward signs of harm, a local resident told Reuters.

“Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was beaten on Friday evening at Kultorvet (square, red.) in Copenhagen by a man who was subsequently arrested. The Prime Minister is shocked by the incident,” her office said in a statement without giving further detail.

All the prime minister’s official events on Saturday have been cancelled, her office added.

The assault took place when the man walked up to the prime minister and hit her.

Frederiksen’s office said the incident had left the politician “shocked” and suffering a minor whiplash injury.

“She seemed a little stressed,” Soren Kjergaard, who works as a barista on the square, told Reuters after seeing the prime minister being escorted away by security following the assault.

Police said on social media platform X they had arrested a man and were investigating the incident but declined to give further details. Danish police said the 39-year-old attacker was sentenced today to 12 days in custody.

Copenhagen police said they did not think that the man, who has denied wrongdoing, was politically motivated in his act.

“In light of the fact that the accused has no connection to Denmark, there is a risk of escape,” the judge at the Copenhagen City court said as one reason for the custodial sentence, according to broadcaster DR.

The assault comes two days before Danes head to the polls in the European Union election.

Danish Minister of Environment Magnus Heunicke said on X: “Mette is naturally shocked by the attack. I must say that it shakes all of us who are close to her.”

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack. “There is no place for violence in politics. My heartfelt best wishes for her speedy recovery,” he said.

Several EU leaders condemned the incident, which happened just three weeks after Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico was seriously injured in an assassination attempt.

“My good friend and Danish colleague Mette Frederiksen was attacked in the street last night in Copenhagen. This is completely unacceptable and is an attack on our open, democratic societies,” Norway Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told news agency NTB.

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president wrote on X: “I was so shocked at the news of you being assaulted tonight. I condemn this despicable act which goes against everything we believe and fight for in Europe. I wish you strength and courage — I know you have plenty of both.”

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