Danish police believe attack on prime minister was not politically motivated

Doctor says Polish man who hit PM Mette Frederiksen in a Copenhagen square, causing her whiplash, is mentally unbalanced and was under the influence

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen attends a ceremony at the Danish monument outside of Sainte Marie du Mont, Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)
Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen attends a ceremony at the Danish monument outside of Sainte Marie du Mont, Normandy, Thursday, June 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Danish authorities said Saturday that an attack on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, which left her “shaken” and with a whiplash injury, was likely not “politically motivated.”

A 39-year-old Polish man, who was apprehended after hitting the prime minister on Friday evening, was remanded in custody until June 20 after appearing before a Copenhagen court, 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.

Sekeroglu said the man was suspected of violence against a public servant and deemed a flight risk.

Frederiksen’s office told AFP she had been taken to a hospital for a check-up after the attack in a Copenhagen square.

The assault caused a “minor whiplash injury,” it said, adding that the prime minister was “otherwise safe but shaken by the incident” and her Saturday schedule had been canceled.

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen arrives to attend a roundtable meeting as part of a European Council summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels, on April 18, 2024. (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

Under the influence

During the hearing on Saturday, the prosecution presented a statement from a doctor describing the defendant as mentally unbalanced and under the influence, Danish media reported.

Broadcaster DR also reported that 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 5:30 pm and 5:45 pm the day before.

“To be completely honest, then no, not much,” the man replied, according to DR.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday became the latest European leader to denounce the attack as “unacceptable,” in a statement on X.

“I strongly condemn this act and wish Mette Frederiksen a speedy recovery,” Macron added.

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) welcomes Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen before a meeting at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris on May 17, 2024. (Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

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

“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.

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

‘Despicable act’

The attack was widely condemned by leading European politicians, including EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, who said it was a “despicable act which goes against everything we believe and fight for in Europe.”

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

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks in the ballroom of Muenster Town Hall, in Muenster, Germany, May 28, 2024. (Jana Rodenbusch/Pool Photo via AP)

The incident follows 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 – with Danes headed to the polls for their vote on Sunday.

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, underwent two lengthy hospital surgeries.

On Saturday, Fico published a photo of him voting in hospital in the European Parliament elections and blasted the West for fomenting tensions with Russia.

“It is necessary to elect European members of parliament who back peace initiatives and not war,” the 59-year-old said.

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