Convict celeb chef job sparks debate

A Danish woman who was almost murdered by her ex-boyfriend has sparked debate about the country’s legal system after he was given a job working with a celebrity chef as part of a rehabilitation programme.

Marlene Duus, 29, is still recovering three years after being beaten with a metal pole and thrown out of a third storey window by her jealous boyfriend Frank Saksik, 43. Although Saksik jumped out of the window after Duus in an apparent suicide attempt, they both survived and, for him at least, things are now looking up.

After serving just two years of a six-year sentence, Saksik has now been hired by celebrity chef Claus Meyer as part of the High:Five programme, which finds former inmates jobs working in Copenhagen bakeries.

Meanwhile, Duus’ modelling career has ended, she has had over 20 operations, and could not walk at all for the first year-and-a-half after the attack. She cannot work and is also yet to receive any compensation, as the government is disputing a doctor’s report that says she is 50 percent disabled.

Duus shared her frustration in an editorial with the Politiken newspaper this week, sparking a national debate. She claims her ex has been given more opportunities than she has, a point that most of the 100-or-so commentators on her piece have agreed is unjust.

“We ought to first help the victim, then help the offender,” Duus wrote in Politiken. “In Denmark, it is sadly the other way around. I live in fear because I know that the system allows a violent criminal to walk around freely. He has been given a coveted trainee position ahead of many law abiding competitors simply because he is a criminal and needs help. How far should you go to help a man convicted of attempted murder?”

Chef Meyer replied to Duus, also through the newspaper, explaining his reasons for hiring Saksik.

“I understand your frustration that you have been left in the lurch by a system which gives the perpetrator a job while you can’t be re-schooled because of a disagreement between public bodies and doctors,” Meyer wrote before explaining the goals of High:Five.

“Judges deliver the punishment and the prison service sees it through. What we do, where we can, is rehabilitate. We reach out to people who have committed crimes, served their punishments and have a hard time being given another chance in society. In doing so, we hope that as a business we can contribute to reducing criminality in the future,” Meyer wrote.

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