Left-wing terror trial enters final phase

Defence and prosecution do not agree on whether the men’s attack against a police school can be classified as terrorism

Female students are predominant on five out of the six Copenhagen University faculties (photo: iStock)
December 5th, 2012 7:44 pm| by admin
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The prosecution and defence have been presenting their closing arguments in the ongoing trial of the five young men accused of arson, though they unsurprisingly don’t agree on whether the attacks constitute terrorism.

Prosecutor Bo Bjerregaard argued that the men were guilty of attacks that were intended to terrorise and cause massive damage.

“They acted with the intention of scaring the population,” Bjerregaard said according to Ritzau. “This also includes actions whose goal alone is to create unrest and chaos.”

Four of the men were caught red-handed attempting to set fire to a police school, while a fifth man was later arrested. They are also accused of varying degrees of complicity in an arson attack against the Greek Embassy, as well as planning attacks against targets that included Maersk and the parliament building.

The four men pleaded guilty to the arson attack against the police school, but denied it was terrorism. All five pleaded not guilty to planning attacks against targets that the prosecution argues were selected as representations of the state or the system.

“If you add that to the fact that the men were closely associated to the extreme left-wing community, it indicates terrorism,” Bjerregaard said.

Earlier in the trial, an analyst from the domestic intelligence agency PET supported the prosecutor’s view.

“Banks, multinational companies and private businesses are all legitimate targets of militant left-wing extremists,” analyst Jesper Jespersen said, according to Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

But Thorkild Højer, defence lawyer for one of the men, argued that the men’s actions could hardly be considered terrorism as people were not the targets of the attacks.

“[The attacks] were characterised by the fact that they did not target people,” Højer said. “They were symbolic in character and a sort of manifestation that did not harm anyone.”

He added that in order for it to be deemed terrorism, their actions would have to have the intention of “seriously scaring a population”, a condition that he argues has not been met.

“We don’t even know if anyone was frightened [by their actions],"  Højer said. "Who have they been trying to scare? If they had a motivation to terrorise, where is their declaration of intent?”

Hanne Reumert, defence lawyer for another of the accused, used a similar argument.

“How can you attempt the threaten a whole population if no one knows what you’re doing?” she asked, according to Jyllands-Posten.

Evidence found in the men’s homes and computers, as well as audio surveillance gathered from the men’s meeting place in Christiania, has been used by the prosecution both to link the men to other arson attacks as well as suggest the attacks were politically motivated.

Some of the men admit to making and storing Molotov cocktails like the one used against the Greek Embassy and police school. Internet searches of Greek anarchist groups were also found on some of the men’s computers, along with copies of the instruction manual 'The Anarchist’s Cookbook'. 

All five men on trial are ethnic Danes, marking the first time that anti-terrorism legislation, first passed by parliament in 2002, has been used to prosecute Danish suspects. A verdict is expected a week on Thursday. 

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