Former Danish immigration minister, Inger Stojberg, has been sentenced to 60 days in prison for misconduct in office after a special court found her guilty on Monday.
A clear majority of an impeachment court specially appointed for this trial found that Stojberg had acted with intent in a case regarding the separation of an asylum-seeking couple from Syria.
The prosecution had demanded four months in prison, while the defence sought acquittal.
“I am very, very surprised, I must say,” Stojberg said in response to the verdict, which she cannot appeal.
A majority of the court found that the instruction at the heart of the case had been unlawful, court Chairman, Thomas Rordam, said upon delivering the verdict in Copenhagen.
However, 25 of the 26 judges were in favour of conviction, and one was in favour of acquittal, Rordam said.
Stojberg had served as minister of immigration and integration from 2015 to 2019 under then head of government, Lars Lokke Rasmussen.
The conservative politician was accused of having unlawfully ordered the separation of a couple from Syria because the woman was a minor.
Her ministry had said in a memo in February 2016 that all asylum-seeking couples would be housed separately without exception if one of the partners was a minor.
According to the court, it was illegal; 23 couples were affected.
A majority of Danish lawmakers voted in early February to try Stojberg in the special court for misconduct in office, a very rare procedure in Denmark.
The system deals with accusations against ministers for unauthorised exercise of office.
This is only the sixth such trial in Danish history and the second in the past 100 years.
Whether Stojberg will actually go to prison remains to be seen.
In Denmark, prison sentences of up to six months can be served by electronic monitoring.
However, a number of conditions must be met, first and foremost, the accommodation must be suitable for monitoring, and the convicted person must apply to the relevant authority.
It is unclear whether this is an option for Stojberg.
One of her defence attorneys, Rene Offersen, declined to answer a question about this after the verdict was handed down.