Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard
Photo: Reuters

Somali charged in attack on Danish cartoonist

Man charged with two counts of attempted murder for attack on Danish cartoonist responsible for 2005 cartoon of Prophet Muhammad which sparked riots across Muslim world

A Somali man was charged Saturday with two counts of attempted murder for an attack on a Danish artist whose 2005 cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad ignited riots and outrage across the Muslim world, authorities said.


The artist - 74-year-old Kurt Westergaard - was moved to an undisclosed location for his own protection.


The 28-year-old Somali man with ties to al-Qaeda broke into Westergaard's home in Aarhus on Friday night armed with an ax and a knife, said Jakob Scharf, head of Denmark's PET intelligence agency.


Westergaard, who has been the target of several death threats since depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb-shaped turban, pressed an alarm and fled with his five-year-old granddaughter to a specially made safe room. He had been under round-the-clock protection by Danish security agents.


Officers arrived two minutes later and tried to arrest the assailant, but then shot him in the hand and knee when he threatened them with the ax, said Preben Nielsen of the Aarhus police.

Defendant being wheeled into courtroom Saturday (Photo: AP)


Nielsen said the man's wounds were serious but not life-threatening, and Westergaard was "quite shocked" by the attack but was not injured.


The Somali man denied the charges at a court hearing Saturday in Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city, 125 miles (200 kilometers) northwest of Copenhagen. Accompanied by a lawyer, he was wheeled into the court on a stretcher from the hospital where he was being treated.


Chief Superintendent Ole Madsen in Aarhus said the man was charged with two counts of attempted murder: One on Westergaard and one on a police officer. The court also banned publication of the man's name.


"He will be in custody for four weeks, and in isolation for two," Madsen said, adding that the Somali would be moved to the Vestre Faengsel prison in Aarhus, which has medical facilities.


His defense lawyer, Niels Christian Strauss, told reporters outside the court he had urged his client to remain silent during the hearing to give him more time to examine the evidence.


פרסום ראשון: 01.02.10, 18:38
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