Danish court rules climate summit arrests illegal

COPENHAGEN Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:41pm EST

Danish riot police officers struggle with protesters of ''Reclaim Power'' that tried to set up a road blockade with air mats outside the conference center in Copenhagen, where world leaders have gathered for the United Nations Climate Change Conference December 16, 2009. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

Danish riot police officers struggle with protesters of ''Reclaim Power'' that tried to set up a road blockade with air mats outside the conference center in Copenhagen, where world leaders have gathered for the United Nations Climate Change Conference December 16, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski

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COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - A Danish court ruled on Thursday that police illegally detained 250 demonstrators during last year's U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen.

Nearly 2,000 protesters were detained during the December 2009 summit, and 250 took their case to court claiming their civil rights were abused.

Ruling the detentions illegal, the Copenhagen city court ordered the police to pay compensation of 5,000-9,000 Danish crowns ($887.6-$1,598) to each of the plaintiffs.

The Copenhagen police said they would lodge an appeal against the decision.

About 120 world leaders and 193 countries met in Copenhagen in December last year to try to reach a global climate deal. The meeting attracted tens of thousands of demonstrators from around the world and brought tough security measures by Danish police.

Voice recordings of police radio communications obtained by Danish national broadcaster DR and played on Thursday revealed riot police ordering assaults on media representatives in the midst of demonstrators.

"I know there is a lot of press in front, but they are in a risky zone...so just slash at them," one of the officers in charge is heard saying in a recording played on DR television. "They are part of this if they stand there."

"I want to see that damned baton glowing red..." the officer said.

The recordings led opposition parties to demand a report on the incident from Minister of Justice Lars Barfoed.

Barfoed said in a statement on Thursday that the demonstrations during the summit had demanded an extraordinary effort by the police.

"Whether this is a case of too harsh a choice of words, I cannot tell at this point as I have only heard the recordings via the press," Barfoed said. "I have therefore asked the Copenhagen police to inform me further of the current circumstances."

(Reporting by Mette Fraende; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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