• Denmark's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Copenhagen attacker's alleged helpers go on trial
Police guard Copenhagen's Great Synagogue on the morning after the attacks. Photo: Simon Læssøe/Scanpix

Copenhagen attacker's alleged helpers go on trial

Sören Billing/AFP · 8 Mar 2016, 08:25

Published: 08 Mar 2016 08:25 GMT+01:00

The four stand accused of committing "terror offences" by providing support for Danish-Palestinian Omar El-Hussein ahead of the second attack, which took place outside a synagogue.
 
El-Hussein, 22, was shot dead by police hours later, having killed two people and wounded five.
 
The prosecution said it could prove the four suspects were in close contact with El-Hussein in the hours after the first attack.
 
"There has been a very comprehensive investigation involving a very large number of police," prosecutor Bo Bjerregaard told AFP.
 
On February 14, 2015, Danish-born El-Hussein opened fire with an automatic rifle outside a cultural centre hosting a free speech event attended by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, reviled by Islamists for portraying the Prophet Mohammed as a dog in 2007.
 
In what is believed to have been an attempt to stop the assailant outside the centre, filmmaker Finn Nørgaard, 55, was killed and three police officers were wounded.
 
Later that night, El-Hussein -- seemingly inspired by the attacks on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo -- headed to the city's main synagogue, where he shot 37-year-old Jewish security guard Dan Uzan.
 
Second attack in focus
As the shots were fired outside, an eerie silence fell inside Copenhagen's Great Synagogue, where worshippers were celebrating a Bat Mitzvah, a Jewish girl's coming of age.
 
Claus Bentow, the girl's father, said he "tried not to think too much" about the trial.
 
"Everyone in the family has seen a psychologist. We are all deeply affected," he told AFP.
 
As preliminary hearings were closed to the public, little is known about the suspects, all of whom deny the charges.
 
"My client pleads not guilty and looks forward to finally starting the trial. It's now been almost a year since he was arrested," said Berit Ernst, a lawyer for one of the men.
 
Aged between 20 and 31, all are believed to be Danish citizens but two hold dual citizenship and could risk deportation, according to Danish media.
 
They are accused of having provided the killer with ammunition, a hoodie and a bag -- all used in the second attack -- and for having paid for his time in an Internet cafe where he located his second target, the synagogue.
 
Two of the men have also been charged with helping him get rid of an M95 assault rifle he used outside the cultural centre.
 
The four have been detained since February and March last year and could face life in prison if found guilty.
 
The prosecution has set aside 30 court days for the trial.
 
A fifth man was released in January -- allegedly El-Hussein's younger brother -- and the charges against him have been dropped.
 
Bentow said he was troubled by the man's release, and that he thought it was unlikely El-Hussein had been acting completely alone given widespread anti-Semitism in the immigrant community where he grew up.
 
"Of course there are others around him who also think (his actions are) a good idea, and who maybe do not dare to do the same as him, who offer help with what they can," he said.
Story continues below…
 
Criminal background
Observers say it could be difficult for the prosecution to apply Denmark's terrorism law since it would have to prove that the four suspects knew about El-Hussein's plans.
 
A petty criminal known for his violent temper, El-Hussein was released from prison two weeks before the attacks, having served time for a stabbing.
 
On the day of the attacks, he reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group on Facebook, also posting a link to a video of a violent Islamist hymn.
 
Hundreds of people attended his Islamic burial outside Copenhagen. Some were known gang members, while others said they wanted to show support for the killer's family.
 
Danish intelligence agency PET has been criticised for failing to act on information from prison services that El-Hussein was at risk of radicalisation, and former classmates have claimed they tried to warn police as early as 2012.
 
Copenhagen politicians have since launched a plan partly inspired by the smaller city of Aarhus' "soft hands" approach to battling the radicalisation of young Muslims with social techniques used in gang exit strategies.

For more news from Denmark, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Sören Billing/AFP (news.denmark@thelocal.com)

Today's headlines
Russia lashes out at ‘hostile’ Denmark
Russia's ambassador to Denmark, Mikhail Vanin. Photo: Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Kingdom of Denmark

Russia’s ambassador to Denmark accused the Danes of being “hostile” and “anti-Russian” in an interview published on Friday.

Danish MP cleared for 'bomb civilians' remark
Søren Espersen of the Danish People's Party. File photo: Keld Navntoft/Scanpix

Copenhagen Police have dropped proceedings against Danish People’s Party (DF) spokesperson Søren Espersen after he said that Denmark “should start” bombing civilians in Syria.

Denmark's biggest IPO to be windfall for Goldman Sachs
Dong's expected market value is up to 106.5 billion kroner. Photo: Claus Fisker/Scanpix

The Danish wind farm group Dong Energy is valued at up to $16 billion, leading to renewed debate about its partial sale to the US investment bank.

Aarhus blocks plans for grand mosque
Aarhus will not get a new mosque after all. Photo: Guillaume Baviere/Flickr

The sale of a plot of land for the construction of a grand mosque has been cancelled by Aarhus Municipality.

Denmark's waters are cleaner than ever
Danish beaches are cleaner than ever. Photo: Old Dane/ Wikipedia

Jump on in, the water's fine! In fact, it's cleaner than it's ever been.

Syrian refugees sue Denmark over long family wait time
File photo of the refugee tent camp in Thisted. Photo: Sara Gangsted/Scanpix

A group of five Syrians are suing Denmark and Immigration Minister Inger Støjberg over the three-year waiting period for family reunification imposed on refugees.

Green card holders in Denmark in race against time
Green card holder Mehvish Kiran said that her four children would not be able to adjust to life in Pakistan. Photo: Submitted

Thousands of green card holders are desperately trying convince politicians not to force them out of Denmark and say that a recently-granted extension to the scheme is a hollow victory.

Danish economy set for ‘historically’ low growth
File photo: Scanpix DK

Reports from the Ministry of Finance and independent experts suggest that the Danish economy is likely to be one of Europe’s slowest growers over the coming years.

Aarhus named 'second best place in Europe'
Aarhus was named one of the top European destinations of 2016 by the Lonely Planet. Photo: Stan Shebs/Wikimedia

Denmark's second largest city was named among the best European destinations to visit in 2016 by influential travel guide Lonely Planet.

Danish family reunification laws discriminate: court
The court said that Danish rules unfairly discriminate against those who obtain citizenship later in life. Photo: Colourbox

Denmark’s family reunification laws discriminate against those who achieve citizenship later in life, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday.

Green card holders in Denmark in race against time
National
Green card holders in Denmark in race against time
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
How Copenhagen achieved an ‘organic food revolution’
National
How Copenhagen achieved an ‘organic food revolution’
Travel
The second best destination in all of Europe is...
Sport
We are the champions! Denmark wins world badminton team title
After 100 years, British WW1 sailor identified in Denmark
National
After 100 years, British WW1 sailor identified in Denmark
Society
Strangest political story in Denmark just got stranger
International
Keeping Denmark in Europol 'maybe impossible'
Analysis & Opinion
Green card holders tell Denmark to keep its promise
National
Denmark picks F-35 in historic jet purchase
Society
Denmark to no longer define transgender as mental illness
National
Danish minister tells 'Sharia' troublemakers to 'get a job'
Culture
Danish 'martyr' exhibit reported to police
National
Denmark extends 'temporary' border measures for sixth time
National
Denmark nears final decision on controversial fighter jets
Society
Muslim ‘girls only’ swimming sessions ripple Danish waters
National
Could Danes face a 'red meat tax' to help climate?
National
Denmark unable to process or issue visas
Denmark to go to war against Isis in Syria
International
Denmark to go to war against Isis in Syria
Business & Money
How Denmark’s national bank card is about to change
Culture
The best Danish bands you've (maybe) never heard of
Danes leaving the church in droves
Society
Atheist campaign gets Danes to leave the church in droves
Four Isis ‘recruits’ arrested in Copenhagen
National
Four Isis ‘recruits’ arrested in Copenhagen
Business & Money
Unwrapping Denmark's first zero-packaging food store
2,287
jobs available