Iraqis ousted from Danish church

Copenhagen, Denmark - Danish police have used force to evict 19 Iraqi men from a Copenhagen church where they had sought refuge.

Five protesters from a crowd who tried to prevent the police moving in were also arrested during the operation.

Clashes broke out between the protesters and police on Wednesday night as the Iraqis were put on a bus outside Brorson's Church.

Danish media say Denmark and Iraq have established a legal framework for the repatriation of failed asylum seekers.

An Iraqi delegation is to visit Denmark later this month to help identify the evicted Iraqis, who had been sheltering at Brorson's Church in the capital's Noerrebro district since May, the Politiken news website reports.

Denmark's former Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen accused police of having "ignored human decency" by raiding the church to oust the Iraqis.

But Justice Minister Brian Mikkelsen, quoted by Politiken, defended the police action.

"I think we would have preferred not to have to use force," he said.

"But we happen to live in a democratic society which is built on people abiding by the country's laws and rules and there's no special treatment just because you occupy a church."