Accused religious boss (not) sick in Africa?

Accused religious leader Mogens Amdi Petersen is, according to African doctors, too sick to return to Denmark to face trial

The Copenhagen Post/October 9, 2003

Religious leader Mogens Amdi Petersen, currently on trial for fraud, embezzlement and tax evasion, is apparently sick in Zimbabwe and, according to his lawyers, unfit to return to Denmark to stand trial.

Despite Petersen's apparent ill health, newspapers are reporting that the controversial Tvind leader - who founded the Humana People to People organisation - is not currently in hospital. A nurse from the Avenues Clinic in Harare told the newspaper Ekstra Bladet that Petersen's total stay at the hospital was just two hours last Sunday. 'Mr. Petersen did not receive any treatment and was not sick enough to be admitted into hospital,' she told the daily newspaper.

Petersen, who spent two decades as an international fugitive until his apprehension last February in Los Angeles, caused much surprise when he was released on bail. Initial pleas by the Tvind boss to be released in Denmark whilst awaiting trial were rejected by a Ringkøbing court. The sitting judge confirmed that there was a 'considerable and credible risk' of Petersen fleeing the country. But after eleven months in custody, the controversial Tvind leader was released earlier this year after a new court ruling that he posed no flight risk. Prosecutors at the time expressed surprise that such a high-profile suspect - who had spent seven months fighting extradition from the US - was allowed bail.

Despite the concerns expressed by the nation's press, Petersen's diagnosis for 'multiform erythema with an allergic reaction' appears to have been accepted by legal authorities. After receiving faxed photos and a description of his complaint, Judge Steen Løvbjerg Nielsen commented to Ekstra Bladet last week; 'now this question has been cleared up, we expect the case to continue on 22 October.'

The founder of the Tvind 'alternative' schools movement, 63-year-old Petersen is facing charges of embezzlement and tax fraud totalling almost DKK 70 million. However, Petersen was recently described by his defence lawyer as a 'very human gentleman, who for many years had offered his life to charity, love for his fellow man and humanitarian work for the ostracised and poverty stricken people of the Third World.'

The case is expected to be one of the most complex ever to come before a Danish court, spanning tax evasion and fraud allegations over twenty years. Over 100 metres of files and folders have been placed on computer files in the courtroom because of the sheer number of paper documents involved.

Recent delays in the proceedings means that, even if Petersen returns later this month, the court might not reach a verdict before the year 2005.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.