• Denmark's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Copenhagen Terror Trial
Four on trial for helping Copenhagen gunman
The trial began at Copenhagen City Court on Monday under tight security. Photo: Emil Hougaard/Scanpix

Four on trial for helping Copenhagen gunman

Sören Billing/AFP · 10 Mar 2016, 14:39

Published: 10 Mar 2016 12:05 GMT+01:00
Updated: 10 Mar 2016 14:39 GMT+01:00

The trial, being held under heavy security, comes with Europe still on high alert over fears of jihadist violence following two bloody attacks in Paris in 2015.
 
Prosecutor Bo Bjerregaard accused the four defendants of trying to "destabilise or destroy Denmark's basic political, constitutional, economic or societal structures".
 
The killer, 22-year-old Danish-born Omar El-Hussein, opened fire on February 14 last year outside a cultural centre where the speakers included Swedish artist Lars Vilks, a target of Islamic extremists since he portrayed the Prophet Mohammed as a dog in 2007.
 
A 55-year-old filmmaker, Finn Nørgaard, died and three people were injured.
 
Later that night the Dane of Palestinian origin fired six shots outside the city's main synagogue, killing security guard Dan Uzan, 37, and injuring two other people.
 
The assailant was shot dead by police hours later.
 
 
'Terror offence'
The trial, which is expected to last until September, is to focus on events in the hours between the two attacks, when the four men are accused of having aided the killer.
 
Bjerregaard said they had to have been aware of the intentions of the gunman, whom some had known since childhood.
 
After lifting a ban on disclosing their identities, the court named the four as Liban Ahmed Saleban Elmi, 20, Ibrahim Khalil Abbas, 23, Bhostan Khan Hussein, 26 and Mahmoud Rabea, 31.
 
Bjerregard said earlier this month that charges against a fifth suspect had been dropped
 
The prosecution believes the four men are all guilty of committing a "terror offence" by providing El-Hussein with support in the form of ammunition, a hoodie and a bag used in the second attack, and by paying for his time in an Internet cafe where he located the synagogue.
 
Abbas and Elmi are also charged with helping him get rid of a rifle he used at the cultural centre.
 
If found guilty, they risk a term of life imprisonment, which in Denmark means they would be entitled to a pardoning hearing after 12 years.
 
The prosecution, which has set aside 30 court days for the trial over seven months, believes it can show that the four were in close contact with El-Hussein in the hours after the first shooting.
 
It will have to prove their "intent", meaning they knew about his plans to commit an act of terror.
 
Elmi's lawyer told AFP that while her client had been friends with El-Hussein since childhood, he knew nothing of his plans.
 
"He doesn't deny" meeting up with the gunman on the afternoon of the attacks, "but he denies that he knew anything about terror and he didn't participate in anything concerning terror," Mette Grith Stage said.
 
"My client is a Muslim but he wasn't practising very much... I don't see him as radicalised."
 
Intelligence agency criticised
Released from prison just two weeks before the attacks after serving time for a stabbing, El-Hussein was known for his violent temper and for having ties to a criminal gang on the immigrant-heavy Mjølnerparken estate where he grew up.
 
 The prosecution told the court he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group on his Facebook page on the day of the shootings, investigators say he was not part of a jihadist network.
 
Danish intelligence agency PET has however been criticised for failing to act on information from prison services that he was at risk of radicalisation.
 
Because the preliminary hearings have been held behind closed doors, little has been known about the four suspects, all of whom are expected to plead innocent.
Story continues below…
 
According to media reports they all have criminal records for offences ranging from break-ins to possession of automatic weapons.
 
The four appeared solemn as proceedings began, according to an AFP reporter.
 
One was unshaven and tired-looking, while another, sporting a shaved head, a black hoodie and a black jacket, smiled and shook the hands of two others and his lawyer.
 
"It has been hard waiting because the police can go out and say to the media what they think of the case but the defence can't do the same," Hussein's lawyer Berit Ernst told AFP.
 
Dozens of onlookers queued up outside the courtroom trying to get a seat inside, as about a dozen heavily-armed police guarded the building.
 
Lawyers for the defence and the families of the victims entered the courtroom without making any comments, while the accused entered from an adjoining jail where they have been held for almost a year.
 
Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen warned on the anniversary of the attacks that Denmark still faced a "serious terror threat".
 
On Tuesday, police revealed that a 16-year-old Danish girl arrested in January had been planning to bomb two schools, one of which was Jewish.

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

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

Today's headlines
Denmark takes small step towards medicinal cannabis
A cannabis plant. Photo: Coleen Whitfield/Flickr

A trial programme gets the okay in southern Denmark.

Danish police chase clues in motorway ‘stone murder’ case
Police technicians look for clues on the overpass. Photo: Kim Rune/Scanpix

Local residents and businesses have offered to put up rewards for information.

Danish MPs to visit Australia's Nauru migrant camp
Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen said she'd use the trip as a fact-finding mission on Australia's "grotesque" system. Photo: MARIE HALD/Scanpix

One lawmaker vows to "ask some of the questions that the Australian government is preventing journalists from asking."

Danish MP: EU a bigger threat than Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Crimean officials last week in a hand-out photo from the Kremlin. Photo: Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Nikolsk/Scanpix

Danish People’s Party MP Marie Krarup is under fire for saying that the EU is “without a doubt” a bigger threat to Denmark than Russia.

Denmark to get year’s ‘last summer weather’
Time for one last trip to the beach? Photo: Thomas Rousing/Flickr

Temperatures could reach as high as 30C by week’s end in what is likely summer’s final hurrah.

Copenhagen vehicle fires continue for third night
The Copenhagen car fires have drawn comparisons to a similar spate of incidents in Malmö, pictured here. Photo: Johan Nilsson/Scanpix

For the third night in a row, Copenhagen Police reported that vehicles in the city had been torched by unknown arsonists.

Two straight nights of car fires in Copenhagen
The Copenhagen incidents come after a spate of more than 70 car fires in Malmö, as pictured here. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT/Scanpix

Has Sweden's spate of car fires now spread to Denmark?

Photo gallery
IN PICS: Record crowd shows its Pride in Copenhagen
The parade started in Frederiksberg and ended at Copenhagen's City Hall Square. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Scanpix

The biggest ever Copenhagen Pride peaked in grand style over the weekend as the annual parade worked its way through the heart of the city.

Per capita, Denmark is Europe’s Olympic champ
Swimmer Pernille Blume's gold and bronze medals were two of the 15 won by Denmark. Photo: Jens Nørgaard Larsen/Scanpix

Only four countries in the world had a better per capita medal haul than Denmark.

Danish Turks withdraw children from private schools
A hand-out photo taken by Zaman Daily in 2013 shows exiled Turkish Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen at his residence in Pennsylvania. Photo: AFP/Zaman Daily/Selahattin Sevi/Scanpix

Parents "do not dare let their children go to a school that Erdogan has labelled a terrorist school".

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Per capita, Denmark is Europe’s Olympic champ
Sport
Denmark is Europe’s Olympic (per capita) champion
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
National
Female jogger left 'near death' in Copenhagen attack
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
National
EU breathes down Denmark’s neck over bad air quality
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Business & Money
Foreigners fill more than half of all new jobs in Denmark
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Society
Why you should learn Danish (and how it will benefit you)
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Sport
Robbed in Rio: Danish Olympic team hit by thieves
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish jets have bombed Syria for the first time
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
National
Danish Muslim graveyard offers to bury French terrorist
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Technology
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
National
Danish MP: Ban Muslim immigration to Denmark
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Denmark can't keep up with trove of ancient discoveries
Denmark can't keep up with trove of ancient discoveries
Sponsored Article
Malmö to host global skateboard championship
Our complete coverage from the 2016 Roskilde Festival
Culture
Our complete coverage from the 2016 Roskilde Festival
Danish police use infamous 'jewellery law' for first time
National
Danish police use infamous 'jewellery law' for first time
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Danes with foreign spouses to be hit by new restriction
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
International
After Brexit, Danish PM resists calls for similar EU referendum
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
International
Why Denmark won't try to follow the UK out of the EU
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
National
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
International
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
Society
Sex campaigns lead to Danish baby boom
National
Don't worry Denmark, the world still loves you
Culture
Danish diversity ad a massive social media hit – have you seen it?
2,206
jobs available