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Denmark set to ban life-term prisoners from new romances

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By AFP
A police office watches Peter Madsen as he sits on the side of a road after being apprehended following a failed escape attempt in Albertslund, Denmark, Oct. 20, 2020.
A police office watches Peter Madsen as he sits on the side of a road after being apprehended following a failed escape attempt in Albertslund, Denmark, Oct. 20, 2020.   -   Copyright  Nils Meilvang/Ritzau Scanpix via AP
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Prisoners in Denmark serving life sentences are set to be stopped from beginning new romantic relationships.

The bill, if adopted, will apply to the first ten years of their sentence and is aimed at countering a rise of so-called "criminal groupies".

The move comes after a young woman recently revealed she fell in love at the age of 17 with Peter Madsen, who was sentenced to life behind bars for killing journalist Kim Wall in his homemade submarine in 2017.

"In recent years, we have seen disgusting examples of prisoners who have committed bestial crimes contacting young people in order to gain their sympathy and attention. This must obviously be stopped," Denmark's justice minister Nick Haekkerup said in a statement.

"Lifers... should not be able to use our prisons as dating centres or media platforms to brag about their crimes," the minister added.

Prisoners will be able to maintain contact by letter or telephone with people who were close to them before their detention.

The six-point bill would prohibit lifers from forming new relationships during the first ten years of their sentence, as is possible today.

It also intends to prevent them from freely posting messages on social media about the crime(s) they committed or participating in podcasts about these topics. Today, convicts can, for example, vent their feelings on Facebook.

In addition, the text limits the possibility of furloughs, which will only be allowed after ten years of imprisonment — up from two or four years currently.

The bill, which was sent to a parliamentary committee on Wednesday, has already been approved by the right-wing opposition. It is expected to be adopted in the autumn and to come into force on January 1, 2022.