Swedish terror suspects plead ‘not guilty’

The three Swedish citizens and one Tunisian citizen resident of Sweden who are charged with being behind the planned terror attack on the Jyllands-Posten daily denied all charges when the trial finally begun in Copenhagen on Friday.

Swedish terror suspects plead 'not guilty'

The police presence was significant outside the court room where the four men were brought, in handcuffs, to face the court.

The place was also swarming with press, both domestic and international, who wanted to catch a glimpse of the suspects in the highly publicized case, according to the TT news agency.

“This is a serious terror case and perhaps the most serious one we have ever had, as it came closer to being realized than previous ones,” said Danish state attorney Gyrithe Ulrich to Sveriges Radio prior to the trial’s opening.

The four men; Munir Awad, Omar Abdalla, Sahbi Zalouti, and Mounir Dhahri are under suspicion for preparing what Danish officials called a plan to “kill as many people as possible” in an assault on the Copenhagen offices of the Jyllands-Posten daily.

The men now face charges of “attempted terrorism” over what prosecutors say was a plot to “kill a large number of people” at the Jyllands-Posten daily’s offices in Copenhagen.

Prosecutor Henrik Plähn said during the trial that the target was the Jyllands-Posten premises at the Rådhusplatsen square in the city.

On the night of the planned attack, the premises were set to hold a sports award ceremony, which Crown Prince Fredrik was to attend.

“But we don’t think that the Crown Prince was the number one target,” Plähn said.

Danish police, who had been collaborating with their Swedish counterparts and had been wiretapping the men, arrested them just after hearing them say they were “going to” the newspaper office on December 29th 2010.

A machine gun with a silencer, a revolver and 108 bullets and reams of duct

tape were among the items found in the men’s possession when they were arrested.

Before the charges could be filed, the case had to pass through the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (Rigsadvokaten), the special international crimes office (Statsadvokaten) and the Danish ministry for justice (Justitsdepatementet), said prosecutor Helene Schröder in December last year.

Jyllands-Posten published a dozen cartoons in 2005 of the Prophet Muhammad that triggered violent and sometimes deadly protests around the world.

The paper has since been the target of many foiled attacks but Ulrich sees this case as the most serious in a series of revealed terror plans since the publication of the cartoons.

The four men all denied the terror charges as the trial opened at 9am on Friday morning, according to local paper B.T.

TT/AFP/The Local

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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”.