Denmark finds cartoonist attacker guilty of terror

Posted on 04/02/2011

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COPENHAGEN — A Danish court found a Somali man guilty on Thursday of attempted terrorism for trying to kill a cartoonist whose 2005 drawing of the Prophet Mohammad stirred Muslim outrage around the globe. 

The 29-year-old Somali, who broke into the home of cartoonist Kurt Westergaard with an axe on New Year’s Day last year, also was convicted of attempted manslaughter, a police official said.

The man was acquitted on another attempted manslaughter charge, brought because he threw his axe at a police officer who arrived to arrest him, but was convicted of assaulting the officer, police said.

The court in Aarhus was expected to sentence the man on Friday.

According to local media, the terror verdict stemmed partly from Westergaard’s status as a symbol of freedom of speech and democracy in Denmark, so the attempted attack on him was deemed by the court to be an attack on the nation as a whole.

Westergaard’s caricature of the Prophet was one of a dozen cartoons lampooning Islam published by the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, which led to violent protests in 2006 and threats to cartoonists, other journalists and the newspaper.

Most Muslims consider any depiction of the founder of Islam offensive, and protests resulted in at least 50 deaths. 

Westergaard’s drawing of the Prophet with a turban resembling a bomb attracted most attention. The cartoonist has lived for years under police protection following numerous threats against him and the newspaper. 

On Dec. 29, Danish and Swedish police arrested five men suspected of plotting a “Mumbai-style” attack to kill as many people as possible at the Copenhagen building that houses the newspaper.

One of the men subsequently was released. Three others remain in custody in Denmark and one in Sweden, facing charges of planning an act of terrorism.

Danish security police have said the arrests prevented an imminent attack that would have been like a 2008 rampage by Pakistani gunmen in the Indian city of Mumbai.

 The men held in Denmark, one Tunisian and two Swedish citizens, will next appear in court on Feb. 24

Police are working to get a fourth man who was arrested in Stockholm extradited to Denmark.

Source:
Thursday, February 03, 2011

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