Denmark man gets four months in prison for coughing at police

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark’s Supreme Court on Thursday sentenced a man to four months’ imprisonment for coughing at two police officers while shouting “corona” during a routine traffic stop in March last year.

The incident, which took place when the country was under full coronavirus lockdown, led to the defendant being arrested on charges of threatening behaviour, although he later tested negative for COVID-19.

First acquitted in a local court, he was later convicted at Denmark’s Western High Court. At his Supreme Court appeal against that conviction, prosecutors sought a jail term of three to five months.

Other similar incidents were reported in Denmark last year, partly reflecting declining public trust in the government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, while similar cases were reported in the UK, the United States and Canada.

English and Welsh police forces registered 200 incidents a week of spitting or coughing at officers - usually preceded by the offenders saying they were infected, an investigation last April by British daily The Telegraph found.

The Danish defendant, a man in his early twenties, was also convicted of fleeing the police following his preliminary questioning at the city court.

Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Editing by Hugh Lawson