Danish PM joins hundreds at funeral for Dane slain in Morocco

The casket of Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen is seen ahead of the funeral service inside Fonnesbaek Church in Ikast, Sweden January 12, 2019. (Reuters/Denmark OUT)
Updated 12 January 2019
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Danish PM joins hundreds at funeral for Dane slain in Morocco

  • Moroccan authorities have arrested a total of 22 people in connection with the murders
  • They include four main suspects and a Spanish-Swiss man who had links to some of the suspects and who subscribed to “extremist ideology”

COPENHAGEN: Hundreds of mourners, including Denmark’s prime minister, packed a small Danish church on Saturday for the funeral of a woman hiker murdered in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains in December.
Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, was killed together with 28-year-old Maren Ueland from Norway, as the two camped overnight at an isolated hiking spot south of Marrakesh while on vacation.
Their bodies were found the following day.
Moroccan authorities have said they were beheaded and are calling the crime a “terrorist” act.
Saturday’s 45-minute service for Jespersen was held at the Fonnesbaek Church in Ikast, in the Mid Jutland region of Denmark.
Speaking just before Jespersen’s casket was carried out of the church, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen vowed her life would not be forgotten.
“Though the pain is unbearable, we must not succumb. We must remember who we are, what we are made of, and what we stand for,” he said.
According to tabloid B.T., more than 400 people attended the service in the small, modern church. An adjoining room next to the main hall was opened to accomodate all of the guests.
Moroccan authorities have arrested a total of 22 people in connection with the murders. They include four main suspects and a Spanish-Swiss man who had links to some of the suspects and who subscribed to “extremist ideology,” Moroccan officials say.
The main suspects belonged to a cell inspired by Daesh ideology, but none of the four had contact with Daesh members in Syria or Iraq, Morocco’s counter-terror chief Abdelhak Khiam told AFP.
Jespersen and Ueland had been studying outdoor activities and tourism at the University of Southeastern Norway.
The pair decided to go to Morocco for Christmas and arrived for a month-long holiday on December 9.
They had traveled to the foothills of Mount Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak, not far from the tourist village of Imlil.
Friends have described the two young women as “adventurers” and “sociable.”
“The girls took all the necessary precautions before leaving for the trip,” Maren’s mother Irene told Norwegian’s NRK television in December.
Ueland’s funeral is to be held in Norway on January 21.


US women detained for speaking Spanish sue border agency

In this Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, photo provided by the ACLU of Montana, Martha Hernandez, left, and Ana Suda pose in front of a convenience store in Havre, Mont., where they say they were detained by a U.S Border Patrol agent for speaking Spanish last year. (AP)
Updated 31 min 47 sec ago
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US women detained for speaking Spanish sue border agency

  • The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed suit against US Customs and Border Protection on behalf of the women, who live in Havre

LOS ANGELES: Two US women detained by a border patrol agent in the state of Montana after he heard them speaking Spanish in a grocery store have sued the country’s border protection agency.
Video of the incident — which took place last May in the small town of Havre — showed Agent Paul O’Neal tell Ana Suda and Martha Hernandez that he had asked to see their identification as it was unusual to hear Spanish speakers in the state, which borders Canada.
“It has to do with you guys speaking Spanish in the store in a state where it’s predominately English speaking,” he said.
“It’s not illegal, it’s just very unheard of up here,” he told the women.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed suit against US Customs and Border Protection on behalf of the women, who live in Havre.
Suda and Hernandez say in the lawsuit that O’Neal detained them for 40 minutes.
California native Hernandez and Suda, who was born in Texas, said they were standing in line to buy milk and eggs when the agent — who was standing behind them — commented on Hernandez’s accent, and asked the women where they were born.
“I asked, ‘Are you serious’?” Suda said, according to the lawsuit. “Agent O’Neal responded that he was ‘dead serious’.”
The two women say they were then asked to show identification and questioned outside the store, before eventually being released.
“The incident itself is part of a broader pattern that we’ve seen of abusive tactics by border patrol which has gotten worse since the Trump administration, which has left border patrol officers feeling emboldened to take actions like this,” Cody Wofsy, an attorney with the ACLU, told AFP.
“This has been devastating for (Suda and Hernandez),” he added.
“Havre is a small town, they felt ostracized and humiliated and made to feel unwelcome in their own town and in their own country.”
He noted the United States has no official language, with Spanish by far the most common language spoken after English.
A Customs and Border Protection spokesman declined to comment on the case.
“As a matter of policy, US Customs and Border Protection does not comment on pending litigation,” he told AFP in a statement. “However, lack of comment should not be construed as agreement or stipulation with any of the allegations.”