Danish Murder Case Ends With One Charge 'Missing'

Magnus and Mads Moeller are sentenced for killing their Black friend
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2020 4:28 PM CST
Danish Murder Case Ends With One Charge 'Missing'
A harbor on the Danish island of Bornholm.   (Getty Images)

A racially-charged murder case in Denmark has ended with 14-year sentences for two brothers—but some say they dodged the most fitting charge of all, the BBC reports. Magnus and Mads Moeller were found guilty of torturing and killing their Black friend, Phillip Mbuji Johansen, in a prolonged attack this summer that left 39 separate wounds including burns and brain damage. Mads and Magnus, ages 23 and 26, also beat their 28-year-old victim with a bottle and pressed their knee on his neck, recalling the murder of George Floyd. A forensic pathologist testified that she had never seen such grievous injuries. But the brothers weren't charged with a hate crime because prosecutors said the killers' motive remained unclear.

A racism researcher at Aalborg University called it "absurd" and "embarrassing" that racism wasn't part of the charge: "I am shocked that both the police—and large parts of the press—do not relate to the racism issue," she told EuroNews. But chief prosecutor Benthe Pederson said the brothers' "long-standing friendship" with Johansen made it hard to file hate crime charges; the brothers, meanwhile, claimed they killed their friend because he had raped their mother, although no such rape had been reported. The trial stirred intense debate in Denmark as well as with Black Lives Matter protests (and counterprotests) in Bornholm. "We are not racists here on Bornholm," a local said. "We are a big family." But critics say racism remains an overlooked and taboo subject in Denmark. (More murder stories.)

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