A court in Denmark has acquitted a person living with HIV who had previously been found guilty under the country’s now-suspended HIV-specific criminal statute. The man’s sentence was reduced to six months, due to his conviction for other, drug-related, offences.
In its brief ruling, published below, the Eastern High Court reasoned that since there is now evidence that HIV is not a “life-threatening condition” he could no longer be guilty of exposing another to a “life-threatening illness”.
The Danish Justice Minister suspended the law in February 2011 noting that HIV can no longer be considered life threatening because, for people living with HIV in Denmark who are on treatment, HIV has become a manageable, chronic health condition.
According to sources in Denmark, it is believed that the courts are in the process of reviewing all HIV-related criminal cases from 2007 – this is the year that National Board of Health informed the Ministry of Justice that HIV was no longer a life threating illness (as defined in the law), even though it took the Ministry another four years to suspend the law.
This would make Denmark the first country in the world to fulfill the fifth recommendation relating to HIV criminalisation of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law.
2.5. The convictions of those who have been successfully prosecuted for HIV exposure, non-disclosure and transmission must be reviewed. Such convictions must be set aside or the accused immediately released from prison with pardons or similar actions to ensure that these charges do not remain on criminal or sex offender records.
Eastern High Court Prosecutor v. Jackie Madsen, 7 August 2012 (unofficial translation).
Denmark: Eastern High Court Prosecutor v. Jackie Madsen,7 August 2012
Transcript the Eastern High Court book of judgments
Delivered on August 7th 2012 by the Eastern High Court’s 13th department
(country judges (names) with lay assessors)
Prosecutor v. Jackie Madsen
(Lawyer (Name)… )
Frederiksberg Legal verdict December 20th 2007 (…) is being appealed by the prosecution based on claim of acquittal of violation of Penal Code § 252 paragraph 2 (issue 2) and appeasement
Defendant has alleged alleviating circumstances.
High Court’s reasoning and result
Since HIV could not, at the time of the crime is crime, be considered a life-threatening illness according to the Penal Code § 252, paragraph 2, the defendant is acquitted for issue 1 in accordance with the prosecution’s claim on this matter.
As a result of this, the sentence is reduced to 6 months of imprisonment. In the decision of the sentence, the court has taken into account (put weight on) the amount of heroin and that the accused himself was a drug addict.
Moreover, the verdict is confirmed.
It is thus decided:
The District Court’s judgment in the case against Jackie Madsen is altered so that he is punished by imprisonment for 6 months.
The Treasury must pay the costs of the High Court.
The accuracy of the transcript is confirmed. Eastern High Court…