Mikkel Hass Gave 8.000 $ to Get Johanne Out of Jail

Danish diplomacy at its best was not enough to bring Johanne Vinther Axelsen home to Denmark from the prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she was rotting away for sending over-the-counter-medicine out of the country by postal mail.
Last minute, Danish pensioner Mikkel Hass stepped in and donated the 40.000 Danish kroner in cash that the court in Phnom Penh demanded for her release. Mikkel Hass just hopes more Danes would follow his example when countrymen are in trouble abroad.
The 8,000 dollars was the fine, which Johanne Axelsen had to pay before the transfer procedure negotiated between Denmark and Cambodia, could proceed.
Mikkel Hass had early on been in contact with Johanne’s lawyers Henrik Hasseris Olesen to ask if there wasn’t anything that could be done to help the poor Danish woman back to her freedom in Denmark. At that time he was told, that there was a stumbling block as the court demanded that Johanne paid a fine of 20.000 dollars to accept her release. At that time, Mikkel Hass had suggested that a few good people could join hands and find this amount.
“Then on February 10, I was called up by Henrik Hasseris Olesen, who told me that the amount was now down to 8.000 US$. My answered was that in that case he could count on me to transfer the full amount overnight to the bank account in Phnom Penh,” Mikkel Hass says.
Henrik Hasseris Olesen, who has been helping Johanne Axelsen for free, was speechless, Mikkel Hass adds.
The whole affair was handled in deepest secrecy. So secret was the transfer, that when Johanne Axelsen on Thursday morning at 6.30 landed in Copenhagen Airport, she was received only by Henrik Hasseris Olesen and Mikkel Hass.
It is part of the Danish deal with the authorities in Cambodia, that Joahnne Axelsen will have to be tried and sentenced at a Danish court for her crime in Cambodia, but it is understood that she will only be sentenced the two years she has already served in the prison in Phnom Penh, which means she will immediately be released.
Next, she will need to get her pension back. While in prison in Cambodia, the Danish authorities stopped paying her pension,
“This is normal procedure in Denmark, where it may make sense, but if you are in a prison in a third world country this is a disaster,” Mikkel Hass comments.
“The 8.000 dollars is an interest free loan,” he says.
“If Johanne can, she is supposed top pay me back, if she cannot find the money, well, then it’s a gift.”
“The main thing is, that she is free!”
Mikkel Hass thinks it is a shame that not more Danes are willing to help other Danes facing injustice outside Denmark. Four years ago, Mikkel also paid a major amount to help the release against bail of another Dane, James Christensen, who had been sentenced to10 years in prison for setting fire to his neighbors farmhouse. The appeals court in October last year cleared James Christensen of all accusations against him. However, the public prosecutor appealed his case to and consequently James Christensen is now awaiting the outcome of that appeal. This will take three to five years and during that time, James Christensen is confined to stay inside Thailand.
“I think more Danes should show empathy when other Danes are in suffering under unfair circumstances abroad,” Mikkel Hass says.
“If you have some money and your have the choice between buying that boat you may have dreamed of or make a real difference in another persons life – what do you choose? My choice is clear,” Mikkel Hass says.

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