Danish parliament ousts convicted ex-immigration minister

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The Danish parliament has voted to oust a former immigration minister who earlier this month was convicted by a rarely used impeachment court in Denmark, saying Inger Stoejberg is not worthy of serving as a member of Denmark’s 179-seat legislative assembly.

In Tuesday’ 98-18 vote with one abstention and 62 absentees, lawmakers ejected Stoejberg, who on Dec. 13 was sentenced to 60 days in jail over a 2016 order to separate asylum-seeking couples when one of the partners was a minor.

Stoejberg attended the parliament session and was the single abstention in the vote. Anti-immigration, populist lawmakers opposed her removal.

The court had found her guilty for “intentionally or through gross negligence neglecting the duties” of her office and providing parliament” with incorrect or misleading information.” Stoejberg’ staff members had warned her that the practice was unlawful.

Stoejberg who has maintained her innocence throughout the trial that started Sept. 2, said she initiated the policy of separating minors from their partners out of concerns the relationships may have involved forced marriages. Twenty-three couples were split up before the policy was halted months later.

She served as minister for immigration, integration and housing from 2015 to 2019 as part of Denmark’s previous center-right government. Considered an immigration hard-liner, Stoejberg spearheaded the tightening of Denmark’s asylum and immigration rules.

In line with the rules, Stoejberg walked out of the Folketing assembly waving to lawmakers.

“I do not think you should expect the very last to be said on my part,” Stoejberg said.

Stoejberg was ousted from the current assembly but could, if she wants, run for a seat in the next parliamentary vote, which must be held at latest June 4, 2023. She has not indicated whether she will do so.

The Court of Impeachment, which adjudicates cases in which government ministers are accused of unlawful misconduct and misuse of office, had not been used since 1995.

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