Unrest by Jesper Stein
Translated by David Young
When the bound, hooded corpse of an unidentified man is found propped up against a gravestone in the central cemetery, Axel Steen is assigned the case.
Rogue camera footage soon suggests police involvement and links to the demolition of the nearby Youth House, teeming with militant far-left radicals. But Axel soon discovers that many people, both inside and out of the force, have an unusual interest in the case and in preventing its resolution.
With a rapidly worsening heart condition, an estranged ex-wife and beloved five-year-old daughter to contend with, Axel will not stop until the killer is caught, whatever the consequences. But the consequences turn out to be greater than expected – especially for Axel himself.
Piver went into Nemoland. He felt safe enough in here to turn his attention back to the camcorder. He bought another gold label and settled in a dark corner on an old sofa and took out the camera.
A section of Nørrebrogade right next to the Box appeared on the screen. The full light of day. Pavement, cycle lane, road, cycle lane, pavement, wall and a section of the cemetery. He estimated that the camera covered 100 yards along the street and 50 yards wide. The time indicated that it was set up at 10.21 on Thursday morning. He spooled forward and saw the riots, demonstrators throwing stones, rubbish bins being pushed over, the police driving wildly after people in their transport vehicles. He relived the whole day.
At 15.23 he saw three plain-clothes officers chasing a man and smacking him up against the wall of the cemetery. There didn’t appear to be any demonstrations at that point. Piver stopped, spooled back and tried to find a button he could use to zoom in. He couldn’t, but there was no doubt what was happening on the small screen. The man had his hands twisted behind his back by two of the officers, while the third pressed his hand against his throat in a half stranglehold. The man’s cry for help came through clear as a bell. The officer holding the man around his throat now began hitting his upper body with his baton. At the same time, the other two had put him in handcuffs, and now they lifted him up and began to drag him off. Both had their batons out and used them several times. They were really hitting him hard – on his back, neck and head, before throwing him into one of the police vans. The man didn’t resist at any point.
Was that what they were afraid of? Was all that talk about a murder just a smokescreen to hide the fact that they were looking for some footage that clearly showed pure, unadulterated police violence?
Whatever – it looked completely crazy. Piver was agitated.
He carried on watching on fast forward. Yesterday’s riots flowed across the screen like a surreal ballet with activists and uniformed officers in the leading roles and curious Copenhageners and the press as passive spectators. Occasionally, it went quiet, and the grey asphalt of the street lay bare like an abandoned stage. At one point, two containers were set on fire and the white light of the ames rose and disappeared at express speed. He kept an eye on the cemetery as it moved towards evening and darkness fell. He stopped the tape whenever he saw someone moving into the murk under the trees behind the yellow wall. There were uniformed police officers on patrol, plain-clothes police and individual citizens, but nothing that looked like a murder.
They came out from under the trees inside the cemetery just opposite the camera. One of them was wearing dark clothes and a cap pulled down over his head so that his face was obscured. The other was bareheaded with dark hair, but walking as if he were drunk or dizzy. The first one had an arm around him and it looked as though he was helping him along. They disappeared behind the wall exactly where the cops had been bustling about with their projectors all morning. A couple of minutes passed and the man with the cap appeared again. He stared at something that was hidden behind the wall. There was a white flash. He put something in his pocket, which Piver guessed was a camera or mobile, lifted his cap and first looked up, then to the sides before turning around and disappearing under the trees into the cemetery.
Piver’s whole body went hot. His pulse was pumping so crazily that he got earache for a moment. Could it really be true? Here it was. The evidence the cops would do anything to get hold of. There was no doubt. Now he understood why it was crucial for them.
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