Danish politician convicted of EU funds fraud

Danish politician Morten Messerschmidt has been convicted of forgery and misuse of the European Union’s (EU) funds and was given a six-month suspended sentence, a local court said.

Currently the deputy Chairman of the Danish People’s Party (DF) and also a member of the Folketing (Parliament), Messerschmidt was found guilty on Friday by the court in Lyngby of defrauding the EU of just over 98,000 Danish kroner ($15,500) and forging documents surrounding a conference that never took place.

Messerschmidt said he intends to contest the court’s ruling, reports Xinhua news agency.

“I am of course surprised and have throughout believed that I would be acquitted. That is why we are appealing,” he told local media outside the court following the verdict.

According to court records, the case concerned a Danish political party’s summer group meeting in 2015.

Messerschmidt had applied for EU funds to hold an event on behalf of the Movement for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy (MELD) in connection with the annual summer group meeting of DF.

But the MELD event did not take place as planned, and now Messerschmidt was found guilty of receiving unjustified payment of the related EU funds.

Messerschmidt, 40, received a six-month conditional sentence, which means he will only serve jail time if he commits a new crime within the next two years.

In response to the verdict, DF Chairman Kristian Thulesen Dahl said Messerschmidt would still be able to continue his political work within the party.

“In our country, one is innocent until proven otherwise. And since Morten wants to appeal (the verdict) at the National Court, it is only when the National Court has assessed the case that we have a final result,” Dahl added.