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Left-wing terror suspects facing life in prison
A historic trial got underway in Copenhagen City Court today, where five young men from well-off families face life in prison as the first to people from the left-wing community to be charged with politically motivated attacks under new the anti-terrorism laws.
The men, aged 21 to 24, are accused of committing arson attacks against a range of targets between 2010 and 2011 that included the Greek Embassy, fur manufacturers, Nestlé, the police and the domestic intelligence agency PET.
They also stand accused of planning attacks against the Justice Ministry, the house of parliament, AP Moller Maersk, and the Immigration Ministry.
The case is unique as it is the first time that members of a left-wing group have been charged with violating sections of the anti-terrorism legislation, which can result in sentences of up to life for committing acts that “grossly intimidate the population”.
Despite the evidence against the men, it is uncertain how successful the prosecution will be in proving that they were carrying out a politically motivated terror campaign.
Four of the men were apprehended red-handed in April 2011 carryoing out a second arson attempt against a police school outside Copenhagen. Police suspect the group of carrying out a successful attack there in May 2010 that caused two million kroner worth of damages.
Police, however, were lying in wait for the second attack. They had been given an anonymous tip-off in March 2011 that suggested that one of the men, identified only as 'PJ', was preparing an attack.
The police tailed PJ, now 23, to a building in the Christiania commune where they later recorded conversations between several of the men planning the future attacks.
A fifth accomplice was later arrested and while police were initially certain of the involvement of a sixth accomplice, they have since given up their search.
Three of the men have been released while two have remained in custody for almost 18 months due to fears that they remain a threat to public safety.
After the arrests, police found 145 flares and 21 Molotov cocktails in a freezer in the Christiania building where they were arrested.
PJ was the first to be questioned today. According to Berlingske newspaper, he admitted making the Molotov cocktails but said they were made for fun and throwing at trees. He added that three of the other men were involved in making them.
PJ admitted to associating with members of the former Ungdomshuset cultural centre but denied being involved in any of the disturbances that occurred after the building's users were evicted and charged with trespassing in 2007.
He did admit that he had been arrested several times by police at other demonstrations including at the airport when Iraqi asylum seekers were being deported, and during a demonstration against a Nazi group.
According to Jyllands-Posten newspaper, PJ went to a Catholic private school and is the son of a police officer. He and the other four accused are referred to by the media as “well-off”, as their parents generally hold highly-paid positions as managers and consultants and because they were brought up in affluent areas of Copenhagen.
The trial is expected to last until December.
This article was updated 30/10/2012 15:11.