13 July 2024

Danish PM ’hit’ by man in Copenhagen

Business Eye Report

Published: 10:36, 8 June 2024

Danish PM ’hit’ by man in Copenhagen

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was "hit" on Friday by a man in a Copenhagen square, her office said, with EU chiefs quickly condemning the attack.

The Danish prime minister's office said in a statement to AFP that Frederiksen was "shocked by the incident", but did not provide further details.

"Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was hit by a man Friday evening on Kultorvet in Copenhagen. The man was subsequently arrested," the statement said.

The incident comes on the heels of a spate of attacks on politicians from across the political spectrum at work or on the campaign trail in Germany ahead of this week's EU elections.

On May 15, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot four times at close range as he greeted supporters after a government meeting in the central town of Handlova.

Fico, who survived the assassination attempt, was taken to a hospital in a nearby city after the shooting, where he underwent two lengthy surgeries.

Two witnesses, Marie Adrian and Anna Ravn, told newspaper BT that they had seen Frederiksen arrive at the square while they were sitting by a nearby fountain just before 6:00 pm (1600 GMT).

"A man came by in the opposite direction and gave her a hard shove on the shoulder, causing her to fall to the side," the two women told the newspaper.

They added that while it was a "strong push", Frederiksen did not hit the ground.

- 'Confused' -

According to the witnesses, the prime minister then sat down at a nearby cafe.

They described the man as tall and slim, and said he had tried to hurry away but had not gotten far before being grabbed and pushed to the ground by men in suits.

Another witness, Kasper Jorgensen, told newspaper Ekstra Bladet that he had seen the man after he was tackled to the ground, saying that one of what he presumed to be part of the security service had put a knee on the man's back.

"They had pacified him, and as he lay there, he looked confused and a little dazed," Jorgensen told the newspaper.

- 'Despicable act' -

EU chief Charles Michel and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola on Friday slammed the attack on Frederiksen.

Metsola urged the Danish head of government to "keep strong", while adding in a post on X that "violence has no place in politics".

Michel in turn said he was "outraged by the assault".

"I strongly condemn this cowardly act of aggression," the European Council president said in a separate post to X.

EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen also condemned what she called a "despicable act which goes against everything we believe and fight for in Europe", in a statement to social media.

Copenhagen police confirmed that an incident involving the prime minister had occurred but did not provide further details.

"We have one person arrested in the case, which we are now investigating. At this time, we have no further comments or remarks on the case," police said in a statement on X.

"I must say that it shakes all of us who are close to her," Danish Environment Minister Magnus Heunicke said in a post to social media.

"Something like this must not happen in our beautiful, safe and free country," he said.

In 2019, Frederiksen became the country's youngest prime minister, and kept the post after emerging victorious in the 2022 general election.