Danish Muhammad Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard
A 29-year-old Somali man charged with trying to kill the cartoonist behind the most controversial Danish Prophet Mohammed caricature went on trial Wednesday in the central town of Aarhus.
The man, named in court as Mohamed Geele, could face life in prison if convicted of the charges of attempted terrorism, attempted murder, attacking a police officer and illegal arms possession.
The hearing was transferred to a larger court due to the number of journalists covering the case.
On January 1 last year, the suspect broke into the home of cartoonist Kurt Westergaard — who had drawn the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb-shaped turban — wielding an axe and saying he wanted to kill him.
Westergaard, now 75, rushed into a bathroom that had been fortified and transformed into a panic room to “seek safety and call the police.”
Police shot the man twice and wounded him before placing him under arrest.
Since his arrest the Somali has denied any wrongdoing, but according to Danish intelligence police, he is believed to be close to the Shebab Islamist movement, which has declared allegiance to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network and controls most of southern and central Somalia.
The trial is set to last nine days and the verdict is expected in the first week of February.
Kurt Westergaard is expected to testify tomorrow under heavy security.