A Danish impeachment court has jailed a former immigration minister over a 2016 order to separate asylum-seeking couples, most of whom were from Syria, when one of the partners was a minor.
Inger Stoejberg, who maintained her innocence throughout the trial, was convicted of “intentionally or through gross negligence neglecting the duties” of her office and providing parliament “with incorrect or misleading information”.
She was jailed for 60 days by the court, the first time it had met in 26 years.
Denmark’s parliament had voted to try her after a commission said that separating couples in asylum centres was “clearly illegal” and that staff members in her ministry had warned her the practice was unlawful.
She was accused of misleading parliamentary committees four times while informing them about the separation policy she adopted as minister.
Stoejberg has said she initiated the policy of separating minors from their partners out of concerns the relationships may have involved forced marriages.
Leaving court after her conviction, she said: “It's not just me who has lost but Danish values have lost too.”
Twenty-three couples, mostly from Syria, were split up before the policy was halted months later.
Most of the women among the separated couples were aged 15 to 17, while the men ranged in age from 15 to 32.
Stoejberg served as minister for immigration, integration and housing from 2015 to 2019 as part of Denmark’s previous centre-right government. She has previously been accused of making anti-Muslim statements.
The impeachment court overseas cases where ministers are accused of misuse of office and unlawful misconduct.
Since its creation in 1849, the court has considered five cases and Stoejberg’s case is the third to result in a guilty verdict.