COPENHAGEN (AP) — The slaying of a biracial man on a Danish Baltic Sea island and the detention of two local men in their 20s on suspicion of his murder is a personal relationship gone wrong than a racially motivated killing, Danish police said Wednesday.
The mangled body of the 28-year-old victim, who had Danish and African roots, was found in the woods on the island of Bornholm early on June 23. He was still alive but died hours later. Two brothers — aged 23 and 25 — were detained on the same day on suspicion of the murder. Neither the victim or the suspects were named.
Speculations that the killing could be racially motivated began after it emerged that his death bore some similarities to that of George Floyd, a Black man who died May 25 in Minneapolis after a police officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes even as Floyd pleaded for air. Floyd’s death has sparked protests around the world demanding racial justice and condemning police brutality.
People made the claim on social media that the murder was racial and drew parallels to the Floyd case. The Danish chapter of Black Lives Matter wrote on Facebook that “two brothers committed a racial murder on Bornholm” and posted a photo of a swastika tattoo, claiming it was on one suspect’s leg.
Benthe Pedersen Lund, the prosecutor handling the case, declined to comment whether the suspect has such a tattoo.
Danish media reported that the other suspect reportedly had expressed support for a Danish extreme right group and for White Lives Matter on his Facebook page.
Investigators looked into the possibility of a racial motive but felt it did not fit the case, Pedersen Lund said Wednesday.
“From the very clear explanations we have (from the suspects), we have a good reason to believe that the killing not is racially motivated,” she told The Associated Press. “We believe there is a personal relationship between the two suspects and the killer that went completely wrong.”
She would not elaborate. The suspects have been ordered held until July 22.
Tobias Brandt Kraehmer, who described himself as a friend of the victim, said the man was visiting his parents on Bornholm and went out for a party on June 22 that ended in the woods north of Roenne, Bornholm’s main town. He said those who claimed there was a racial motive had to be from outside the island.
“For years, the three hung out. They were best friends,” Brandt Kraehmer told the AP. “Around here we all know about the motive. It was personally related, there is no racist motive in this.”
Brandt Kraehmer who is white, admitted that last week he tore down a small banner on the main square in Roenne that said “No lives matter until Black lives matter.”
“To me, the text was inappropriate,” he said. “To us here, it (the killing) is a tragedy, nothing else.”