A 39-year old Polish man was remanded in custody for 12 days on Saturday over an assault the previous day on Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, which authorities said caused her to suffer a minor neck injury.
Frederiksen sustained a minor whiplash injury from the alleged assault, which occurred in a square in Copenhangen’s centre when a man walked up and hit the politician.
“Thank you for the many, many, many greetings with support and backing. It’s incredibly touching,” the prime minister told Ritzau news agency in a written statement on Saturday.
“I am saddened and shaken by the episode on Saturday, but am otherwise safe. For once, I need peace. Both for body and soul. I need to be with my family and need to be myself for a bit,” Frederiksen added.
Several EU leaders condemned Friday’s incident, which happened just three weeks after Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico was seriously injured in an assassination attempt.
“This is completely unacceptable and is an attack on our open, democratic societies,” Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told news agency NTB of the assault on Frederiksen.
Danish police said the alleged attacker was under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time and said he was unaware that the victim was Denmark’s prime minister.
“There is nothing to indicate a political motive,” the man’s lawyer told a Copenhagen court on Saturday. The incident happened two days before Danes head to the polls in European Union elections.
“Danish authorities have told us that the person detained is a Polish citizen, who has been staying in Denmark for some time,” a Polish foreign ministry spokesperson was cited by Polish state radio as saying.
“We see it as a single, spontaneous act, and we do not currently have it as a guiding hypothesis in our investigation that it was a planned attack on the prime minister,” Copenhagen police inspector Trine Moller told Ritzau news agency.
prosecutor Taruh Sekeroglu told reporters.
“It is not our guiding... hypothesis that there is a political motive here. But that is something that the police of course will investigate,” Sekeroglu said.
Broadcaster DR said police had described the man, who denied being guilty of a crime, as “probably both under the influence of substances and drunk” when arrested.
The broadcaster also reported that while in court the prosecutor asked if the man could remember what he was doing between 5:30pm (1530 GMT) and 5:45pm the day before.
All the Danish prime minister’s official scheduled events on Saturday were cancelled, her office said.
Frederiksen was able to walk away after the assault, Soren Kjergaard, a local coffee-shop worker, told Reuters after seeing her being escorted away by security.
Ordinary Danes on the streets of Copenhagen were shocked.
“I was just surprised that was something that could happen,” 45-year-old Anna Liljegren told AFP.
“I’m sure she has security,” she added.
Another Dane, 25-year-old Frederik Bey, told AFP he thought it was “quite disturbing that things like that can happen in Denmark”.
In 2019, Frederiksen became the country’s youngest prime minister at the age of 41 and kept the post after emerging victorious in the 2022 general election.
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