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GOTHENBURG MURDER PLOT

TERRORISM

Swedish court bans niqab-wearing women

Three women wearing head scarves completely shielding their faces were denied entry to a Gothenburg courtroom on Friday during the remand hearing of one of the suspects in the Röda Sten murder plot case.

Swedish court bans niqab-wearing women
A picture of two of the women taken at a previous remand hearing

”I am responsible for order in this court room and I feel I can’t achieve that if I am unable to see the faces of the people present,” said district court judge Stefan Wikmark to Swedish TV4.

The three women were stopped as they were trying to enter the courtroom for the remand hearing 26-year-old Abdi Aziz Mahamud who is under suspicion for plotting the murder of Swedish artist Lars Vilks at an art exhibition in Gothenburg in September.

All three women were wearing niqabs covering them from head to toe.

One of the guards at the Gothenburg District Court prevented them from stepping into the court room, referring to the ban on face coverings, according to TV4’s affiliate in Gothenburg.

The decision to refuse the women from entering the court room while wearing their traditional garb was taken by Wikmark during the remand negotiations.

Aziz Mahamud, as well as Salar Sami Mahamood, 23, and 25-year-old Abdi Weli Mohamud have been held since a raid carried out in September by officers from Swedish security service Säpo.

After receiving intelligence indicating that a terrorist attck would be carried out during an exhibition at Röda Sten, officers stormed and evacuated the gallery during the opening of an art exhibition.

Four men were arrested on the suspicion of preparing terrrorist activities following the raid.

However, one of the suspects, 24-year-old Mohamed Adel Kulan, was later released due to lack of evidence and the suspicions against the other men were subsequently downgraded from preparing terror crimes to preparing to commit murder.

Controversial artist Vilks has been under threat since his drawings of the prophet Muhammad, published in a Swedish newspaper, caused a wave of condemnation from Muslims worldwide.

At Friday’s hearing the court ruled that Aziz Mahamud should remain in custody, pending trial.

In separate hearings, court also ruled that the other two suspects should remain in remand and instructed prosecutors to file formal charges against the men by November 9th.

BREAKING

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

Prosecutors in Sweden are now treating the murder at the Almedalen political festival as a terror crime, with the country's Säpo security police taking over the investigation.

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

In a press release issued on Monday evening, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said that the 32-year-old attacker, Theodor Engström, was now suspected of the crime of “terrorism through murder”, and also “preparation for a terror crime through preparation for murder”. 

Engström stabbed the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren last Wednesday as she was on her way to moderate a seminar at the Almedalen political festival on the island of Gotland. 

Although he was a former member of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, police said his motive seemed to be to protest against Sweden’s psychiatry services, who he felt had treated his own mental illness badly. 

The release gave no details as to why the 32-year-old was now being investigated for a more serious crime, but terror expert Magnus Ranstorp told the Expressen newspaper that the shift indicated that police had uncovered new evidence. 

READ ALSO: What do we now know about the Almedalen knife attack? 

“The new crime classification means that they’ve either found a political motive for the attack which meets the threshold for terrorism, and that might be a political motive for murdering Ing-Marie Wieselgren,” he said. “Or they might have discovered that he was scouting out a politician, or another target that could be considered political.” 

Engström’s defence lawyer said last week that his client, who he described as disturbed and incoherent, had spoken in police interrogations of having “a higher-up target”. 

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