Court orders Vilks plot suspects released
Published: 28 Dec 2011 16:36 GMT+01:00
Updated: 28 Dec 2011 16:36 GMT+01:00
The three men accused of planning to murder controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks in a foiled attack in Gothenburg on September should be sentenced to prison, prosecutors argued in their closing arguments on Wednesday.
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"My client is incredibly relieved," defence attorney Urban Gilborne told the TT news agency following news of his client's release, announced late Wednesday afternoon by the Gothenburg District Court.
"I've also spoken with his family and they are overjoyed and excited that he's coming home."
According to Gilborne, the court's decision to life the remand order on the three suspects, who have been held in custody since September, is a sign that they are innocent.
He emphasized, however, that the final verdict won't be announced until January 20th.
"I've claimed the whole time that the evidence was weak," he said.
Vilks, known for his controversial artwork published in Nerikes Allehanda in 2007, has been subject to several attacks and threats and has received plenty of media attention.
During a four day hearing, which concluded on Wednesday, prosecutors attempted to prove that the three men suspects intended to murder Vilks during a biennial art show at the Röda Sten gallery in Göteborg on September 11th.
The evidence against the three men, identified in court documents as Abdi Aziz Mahamud, a 26-year-old Somali citizen living in Sweden, and Swedish citizens Salar Sami Mahamood, 24, and Abdi Weli Mohamud, 26, consists of recordings of telephone calls between them.
But Ulf Ahlstedt, the lawyer representing one of the three men, argued that the recordings weren't sufficient enough to prove his clients' guilt.
“The recording quality of the telephone calls is not clear enough and this evidence cannot be relied on,” said Ahlstedt to news agency TT.
In closing arguments, the prosecutor argued the suspects should be convicted of conspiracy to murder and sentenced to at least three years in prison.
In addition, the alleged murder plot could be seen as an attack on Vilks' freedom of expression, which strengthens the cause for conviction, the prosecutor said.
Whilst the men admit that they hate Vilks, they deny having plotted his murder.
Swedish security service Säpo had had men under observation for several months prior to their arrest in early September 2011.
A female police officer, whose identity has been protected, said in testimony via telephone that the decision to arrest the three suspects was issued by officials at Säpo headquarters in Stockholm.
However, she refused to elaborate on why Säpo had been conducting surveillance on the men.