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Man who allegedly attacked Danish prime minister before appearing at remand hearing

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A man who allegedly attacked Denmark’s prime minister in central Copenhagen will appear at a pre-trial detention hearing Saturday, authorities said.

Police confirmed on Friday that “there was an incident” with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and that a 39-year-old man was arrested. They did not provide further details and it was unclear whether Frederiksen was injured.

The man is expected to arrive at Copenhagen District Court in Frederiksberg, a municipal enclave of the Danish capital, at 11:00 GMT.

The prime minister’s office told Danish public broadcaster DR on Friday that Frederiksen was “shocked” by what happened.

Two eyewitnesses, Anna Ravn and Marie Adrian, told daily BT that they saw a man walk towards Frederiksen and then “push her violently on the shoulder so that she was pushed to the side”. They stressed that the Prime Minister had not fallen.

Another witness, Kasper Jørgensen, told tabloid Ekstra Bladet that a well-dressed man, who appeared to be part of Frederiksen’s protection unit, and a police officer arrested the alleged attacker.

Søren Kjærgaard, who worked at a local bar on Kultorvet Square where the incident occurred, told the BT that he saw Frederiksen after the incident and that she had no visible injuries to her face, but that she had moved away quickly.

Politicians in the Scandinavian country and abroad condemned the reported attack.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary general, said he was shocked to learn what happened to Frederiksen, whom he called a friend.

“NATO allies stand together to protect our values, our freedom, our democracy and our rule of law,” Stoltenberg wrote on the social media platform X on Saturday.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said that “an attack on a democratically elected leader is also an attack on our democracy.” Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said he strongly condemned “all forms of violence against the democratically elected leaders of our free societies.”

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, condemned the X what he called a “cowardly act of aggression”.

European Union parliamentary elections are currently underway in Denmark and the rest of the 27-country bloc and will end on Sunday.

Frederiksen campaigned with the Social Democrats’ lead candidate for the EU, Christel Schaldemose. According to media reports, the attack was not linked to a campaign event.

Violence against politicians has become a theme in the run-up to the European elections. In May, a candidate from Germany’s center-left Social Democratic Party was beaten and seriously injured while campaigning for a seat in the European Parliament.

In Slovakia, the election campaign was overshadowed by an assassination attempt populist Prime Minister Robert Fico on May 15, sending shock waves through this country of 5.4 million inhabitants and reverberating throughout Europe.

Frederiksen, 46, is the leader of the Social Democratic Party and has been Prime Minister of Denmark since 2019.

She guided Denmark through the global COVID-19 pandemic and a controversial decision in 2020 to eliminate Denmark’s entire captive mink population to minimize the risk of retransmission of the virus from small mammals.

Attacks on politicians in Denmark are rare.

On March 23, 2003, two activists threw red paint at Anders Fogh Rasmussen, then Prime Minister, inside Parliament and were immediately arrested. Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller also suffered some splashes that day.

Jari Tanner in Helsinki and David Keyton in Berlin contributed to this report.

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News Source : apnews.com

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