Capital punishment in Denmark

Capital punishment in Denmark

Capital punishment in Denmark ( _da. Dødsstraf) has been entirely abolished in Danish law. The last remaining possibility for capital punishment was eliminated from Danish law, effective January 1, 1994.

For the most part, Denmark followed the style of other European nations, with government-employed executioners, called "skarpretter" (headsman) in Denmark. The "skarpretter" had the status of a Royal government employee.

The last man to be executed under the civil penalty law was Jens Nielsen, who was executed November 8, 1892, out in the courtyard of Horsens Tugthus (Horsens State Prison), after attempted murder of the prison-officer. He was beheaded with an axe. The last public execution was conducted in 1882 on Lolland, when Anders Nielsen was executed. Both executions were conducted by Jens Carl Theodor Seistrup, the second-to-last executioner and the last actively to do executions for the Government of Denmark.

The last "skarpretter" in office was Carl Peter Hermann Christensen who held the position from August 27, 1906 until April 1, 1926. However, he never performed any executions.

The last time a death sentence was handed down in civil court was on June 13, 1928. However, the punishment was never carried out.

On January 1, 1933, Denmark abolished all capital punishment under the civil penalty law, when the new civil penalty law (law number 126 of April 15, 1930) automatically came into effect, replacing the older civil penalty law of February 10, 1866. Until 1992 this law (law #126) was known as the "civil penalty law"; now it is known only as the "penalty law". Law number 127 of April 15, 1930 describes when and what law #126 replaces. Under military law, however, capital punishment still remained an option.

Shortly after World War II, Denmark enacted 3 special laws as amendments to the civil penalty law, #259 of June 1, 1945, #395 of July 12, 1946 and #423 of October 7, 1947, all having the option of capital punishment, related only to war crimes committed during World War II. The capital punishment option under these laws (not the laws themselves) was eliminated in law number 1097 of December 22, 1993, in effect from January 1, 1994.

76 people received the death penalty under these laws and 46 of them were carried out, the last in June 1950. The 30 remaining were pardoned. The sentences were carried out by firing squad in either Undallslund Plantage (17), close to Viborg or on the military training terrain on Amager Fælled (29).

In 1952 Denmark reinstated capital punishment in the civil penalty law for crimes committed under extreme circumstances and related to war or high treason (#227 of June 7, 1952). It was abolished again in law number 195 of May 3, 1978. At the same time capital punishment was abolished in military law. No people were ever sentenced under this law. [cite book|title=The Barbaric Punishment: Abolishing the Death Penalty |author= Hans Göran Franck|year=2003|publisher=Martinus Nijhoff Publishers|id=ISBN 904112151X|url=] [citebook|title=Punishment |author= Société Jean Bodin pour l'histoire comparative des institutions|year= 1991|publisher=De Boeck Université|id=ISBN 2804112322|url=]

According a survey in Denmark, published on November 6, 2006, 76% of the population opposed the reintroduction of capital punishment in Denmark while 21% was in favour.Fact|date=May 2007


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