Erik Ninn-Hansen

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Erik Ninn-Hansen (12 April 1922 – 20 September 2014) was a Danish politician. He served in the Cabinet of Hilmar Baunsgaard, first as Defence Minister, and later as Finance Minister. In the early 1970s he became leader of the Conservative People's Party, but without much success, as the party slumped to its worst-ever results in the 1973 and 1975 elections.[1]

In the 1980s cabinets of Poul Schlüter, Ninn-Hansen served as Justice Minister. It was from this position that he abused the powers vested in him by illegally stalling family reunion applications from relatives to Tamil refugees, known as the Tamil Case. When the story broke in 1989, Ninn-Hansen was forced to resign as cabinet minister. He served as Speaker of Parliament but, as the scope of the scandal increased, he was forced to resign this office as well. An independent inquiry headed by a Supreme Court Judge was set up to investigate the affair in the late 1980s. The resulting report of this committee led to the resignation of the Conservative-Liberal government in 1993.

Later that year, Ninn-Hansen became the first person since 1910 to be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanours committed as a cabinet minister. In 1995 he was convicted on three charges of abuse of power, and was given a four months suspended prison sentence.[2] The most important task in the impeachment process had been to establish responsibility for the affair. Ninn-Hansen's advanced age and poor health weighed against a full prison term.

An additional case of ministerial wrongdoing surfaced in 2007. Allegedly, Ninn-Hansen, then Minister of Justice, ordered that the ministry shelved requests to the French courts to have two Palestinian PFLP prisoners and 6 mio. DKK handed over to the Danish justice system, presumably out of fears for new acts of terror on Denmark.[3][4] The two PFLP members were presumably connected the notorious Danish terror cell Blekingegadebanden and had been caught on 26 March 1984 trying to leave De Gaulle airport France with six million DKK in suitcases, on their way to Damaskus.[5] Earlier that month, on 2 March 1983, a Danish money transport had been robbed of 8.3 mio. DKK by Blekingegadebanden in Købmagergadekuppet, in which a young policeman was shot dead. Police officers responsible for the investigation were silenced by the Ministry of Justice and ordered to cease the investigation. Relevant files in the ministry of justice have routinely been destroyed, and Ninn-Hansen either cannot or will not recall any details.[3][5] The author Peter Øvig Knudsen discovered correspondence between the French and Danish authorities in the files of the ministry of foreign affairs, as the communications had taken place under the auspiced of that ministry. In 2008 an ongoing investigative commission of cold war affairs, the so-called PET-kommissionen, was asked also to report on this issue. In 2009 it concluded that both the French and Danish authorities mutually and silently had agreed not to prosecute the PLFP prisoners, but also that it was within the discretion of Ninn-Hansen to take such a decision and that he cannot be criticized. There have been several calls in parliament for a new in-depth investigation of this issue.[6] On 20 September 2014 he died at the age of 92.[7]

Political offices
Preceded by
Victor Gram
Defence Minister of Denmark
2 February 1968 – 17 March 1971
Succeeded by
Knud Østergaard
Preceded by
Poul Møller
Finance Minister of Denmark
17 March 1971 – 11 October 1971
Succeeded by
Henry Grünbaum
Preceded by
Ole Espersen
Justice Minister of Denmark
10 September 1982 – 10 January 1989
Succeeded by
Hans Peter Clausen
Preceded by
Svend Jakobsen
Speaker of the Folketing
January 10, 1989 – October 3, 1989
Succeeded by
Hans Peter Clausen
Party political offices
Preceded by
Poul Møller
Leader of the Conservative People's Party
Succeeded by
Poul Schlüter


  1. Erik Ninn-Hansen Den Store Danske, Gyldendals åbne encyclopædi
  2. Thi kendes for ret. Dokument. Rigsrettens dom over forhenværende justitsminister Erik Ninn- Hansen afsagt 22. juni 1995. Weekendavisen, 23.06.1995, 1._sektion, Side 3
  3. 3.0 3.1 Krav om undersøgelse af Justitsministeriet. Berlingske Tidende, 24.10.2007, 1. SEKTION, Side 8
  4. Blekingegadesagen kræver en kulegravning. Kristeligt-Dagblad, 05.01.2008
  5. 5.0 5.1 Røveriet der ikke skulle opklares. Berlingske Tidende, 04.01.2008, 1. SEKTION, Side 10
  6. Storpolitik spillede ind i Blekingegadesag. Ritzaus Bureau, 24.06.2009
  7. "Erik Ninn-Hansen er død" (in Danish). Berlingske. September 29, 2014. Retrieved September 29, 2014. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>