Monday, April 16, 2012

Surprising Developments in the Trial of Lars Hedegaard

As reported here last week, the Danish historian Lars Hedegaard was in court for the third time contesting the “hate speech” charge against him.

Below is an article with more information on Mr. Hedegaard’s case, via Trykkefrihedsselskabet (the Danish Free Press Society).

Surprising Developments in the Trial of Lars Hedegaard

By a special correspondent to

The Eastern Superior Court’s grounds for convicting Free Press Society President Lars Hedegaard on charges of “racism” and “hate speech” were deficient, said the prosecutor in the Danish Supreme Court. Nevertheless she asked the Court to uphold the verdict.

Lars HedegaardThe Supreme Court proceedings in the trial of Lars Hedegaard on April 13 were mostly concerned with juridical details regarding intent — i.e. whether the defendant had intended his remarks on rape in Muslim families to be publicly disseminated. On May 3, 2011 Lars Hedegaard was fined $1,000 for the crime of having denigrated male Muslims all over the world.

The lawyers for the prosecution and defence spent most of three hours juggling with intricate points of law and precedent. However, the prosecutor, Alessandra Giraldi, representing the Director of Public Prosecutions, delivered a sensation when she openly admitted that the grounds for Lars Hedegaard’s conviction in Superior Court were plainly wrong.

In its judgment of 3 May 2011 the Eastern Superior Court found Hedegaard guilty of hate speech in accordance with Article 266b of the Danish penal code because he “ought to have known” that his statements regarding family rape in Muslim families were intended for public dissemination.

Alessandra Giraldi had to admit that logically the wording “ought to” implied that he didn’t know and consequently could not have intended that his remarks to be publicised without having a chance to vet them. And intent is what Article 266b requires for a conviction.

Her solution was to encourage the Supreme Court to confirm the sentence but come up with a better justification.

Guilty of negligence

Lars Hedegaard’s counsel, Karoly Németh, would have none of this. He argued that according to Danish law, the Supreme Court must base its verdict on the evidence presented in the lower court, where his client has been acquitted in January 2011, and in the Superior Court, where he was subsequently convicted without any new evidence having been presented.

In other words, the Supreme Court was bound by the conclusion of the Superior Court that Lars Hedegaard did not know — and consequently could not have had any intent — but only that he “ought to” have known. That being the case, the Supreme Court was obliged to declare him not guilty.

The most that could be argued, said Karoly Németh, was that his client was guilty of negligence, which was insufficient for a conviction under Article 266b.

Who wrote the indictment?

As was the case in the lower and superior courts, Karoly Németh levelled a withering attack on the indictment itself, which he claimed was based not on what his client had actually said but quoted his remarks out of context and was in fact a condensation of a much longer statement.

Several of the justices were seen taking notes when Karoly Németh accused the public prosecutor of having based the indictment on news articles produced by among others the politically correct newspaper Politiken.

If for no other reason, noted counsel Németh, his client must be acquitted on the basis of deficiencies in the indictment.

A verdict is expected on 20 April.


Anonymous said...

Nazi courts convicted many Germans of racial crimes. The rules of procedure were followed to the letter but that did not make their decisions moral or legal in the highest sense of that word.