The Special International Crimes Office investigates criminal acts committed abroad and has, since its establishment in 2002, opened investigations into 237 cases.
The crimes in question have taken place in about 30 different countries in Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia. A majority of them have taken place in Ex-Yugoslavia, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Rwanda, which all have been areas of conflict for a number of years. About 1/3 of the cases have been reported to SICO by the Danish Immigration Service, when they have suspected, either based on an asylum applicant's former position or his/her own statement to the Danish authorities, that the person in question could have committed a serious crime in his/her native country. As a starting point SICO does not institute an investigation unless it is decided that the asylum seeker in question is able to stay in Denmark, either on a residence permit or an exceptional leave to remain. SICO is also prepared to assess if there is reason to prosecute quota refugees whom Denmark is occasionally asked to receive.
Through our website, a mulitlingual folder as well as media exposure, SICO has received reports from private persons. Investigations on SICO's own initiative have also resulted in several new cases. Various interest groups have reported foreigners who are on short stays in Denmark as conference participants or guest lecturers, for crimes committed in their home country. This of course requires a special investigation that has to be conducted very quickly. Finally foreign head of states or ministers get reported even though they have no connection to Danish Territory and even though they at present can't be prosecuted because of their position.
Investigations led to a person being sentenced in 2004 for robbery and abduction in Uganda. Grounds for an indictment were found in the case of an Iraqi army commander who has since absconded, and also in a case concerning abduction and sexual assault. As far as the latter is concerned the suspect has passed away. A decision whether to prosecute is taken according to Danish guidelines, i. e. whether a conviction is probable.
One person has been held in custody for participation in genocide in Rwanda but was on August 10, 2007 released. Action in the case has since been dropped as prospect of conviction was lacking. On December 20th 2007 a Danish citizen of Pakistani origin was acquitted of having murdered his spouse during a stay in Pakistan. In his direction to the jury, the presiding judge referred to the lack of credibilty of testimonies from another culture group. In December 2010 a person was charged with participation in the genocide in Rwanda and remanded in custody. The suspect has now been indicted and the trial was due to start on 1 May in the Court of Roskilde. On 2 March 2012 the Rwandan Prosecution Service asked for the suspect to be extradited for prosecution in Rwanda and the Danish trial therefore awaits the outcome of that request.
In 219 cases there has been no basis for prosecution in Denmark for either one or several reasons. E.g. some of the suspects are no longer living in Denmark which leaves no reason to institute or continue an investigation. The Special International Crimes Office can only prevent a person’s departure if there is sufficient evidence to establish a case for which a court order for preliminary detention can be obtained. So far this has only been the instance in the case against the former Iraqi army commander, the man from Uganda, a Danish citizen of Pakistani origin and two persons from Rwanda.
Investigations of "piracy" is a new type of cases, which is characterized in that the offence is committed on "the high seas". Prosecution in Denmark is only possible if the attack is directed against Danish vessels or committed by a Danish citizen. If the attack takes place in foreign territorial waters, the offence also has to be punishable in the country in question.
The criminal liability could also be statute-barred, which has been significant in cases concerning torture, where criminal liability is statute-barred 10 years after the crime has been committed. Criminal liability for homicide however is not statute-barred. With effect from the 1st of July 2008 the Danish Penal Code has been amended, so that criminal liability in cases concerning torture is no longer subject to any statute of limitation.
If the country in which the crime has been committed cannot confirm that e.g. an "admitted" arson causing loss of life has taken place, there is no reason to continue the investigation and the case will be closed. Sometimes evidence of a crime is procured and it turns out that the suspect had nothing to do with it, or the crime was committed at a time when the suspect was not old enough to incur criminal liability. In one incident the alleged victim of a homicide turned out to be alive and well.
Also, the crime itself may be of such a limited nature that it is not proportional to the difficulties involved in carrying out a trial and its expected sentencing. This was the instance in a case concerning a corporal who forwarded orders from General Headquarters to commit assaults on civilians.
There are also cases where suspicion arises against someone living in Denmark because the person in question bears the same name as a wanted person, and in which cases further inquiries show that the suspect has not committed a criminal offence.
The informer will be contacted by SICO when the investigation is discontinued. If the case has been reported by the Danish Immigration Service, it will then assess whether or not to resume asylum procedures for the person in question. In cases where it has proved impossible to gather information on the criminal act , the suspect will often admit during interrogation that he made up the incident in order to improve his chances of obtaining asylum.
Annual reports (in Danish) of 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007,2008, 2009 and 2010-2011 cover issues that are of significance to the Special International Crimes Office and provide further information. The reports of 2005 and 2006 include summaries in English.
15 cases are still under investigation, including the case against a fugitive former commander-in-chief of the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein. Of the rest of the cases, two were received in 2008, five in 2009, three in 2010 and four in 2011.