Danish cartoonist's attacker charged with terrorism

14:17, February 04, 2011      

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A Danish court has upheld terrorism and attempted murder charges against a Somali man who tried to assassinate a Danish cartoonist for drawing a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.

The assailant, identified as 29-year-old Mohamed Geele, denied the charges, saying he did not intend to kill the cartoonist, but only to frighten and threaten him. He admitted to charges of illegal entry and attempting to attack a police officer. He was acquitted of the charge of trying to murder a police officer.

The Aarhus court, which convicted Geele of attempted murder and terrorism, is set to sentence him on Friday. Geele could be handed a life sentence.

Geele broke into Westergaard's home near Aarhus, in East Jutland, in Denmark, on the evening of January 1, 2010, armed with an axe and a knife. Westergaard, 75, who previously worked for Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper, where the offending cartoon was published, was at home along with his five-year-old granddaughter.

The court heard that Geele chased Westergaard who took refuge in a fortified room in his house, and called the police. Geele hacked on the door of the safe room, but gave up when he heard police arriving. He attacked a policeman as he attempted to escape, but was shot in the leg and captured. Westergaard's grand- daughter was unharmed.

The conviction is likely to have special meaning for future cases, as it upheld terrorism charges which do not pertain to an attack on a population, but on an individual. However, the state prosecutor had previously told the court that the attack constituted an attempt to destabilize Danish society and scare its population. The state prosecutor has asked that Geele be given 12 years imprisonment followed by expulsion from Denmark, Politiken newspaper reported. The case is expected to be appealed.

According to earlier news reports, Geele fled Somalia's civil war in 1995 and was granted indefinite leave to remain in Denmark, where he resided in the North Jutland city of Aalborg. The Danish intelligence service has previously said that Geele later developed ties with radical Islamist movements.

Source: Xinhua
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