Arsonists found not guilty of terrorism
Five young men that were accused of being members of an extreme-left wing terror group have been found not guilty of terrorism, in what was the nation's first terrorism case against ethnic Danes.
The five men were accused of varying involvement in plotting and carrying out arson attacks against targets that included the Greek Embassy, the police and fur companies.
All were found guilty of participating in arson attacks, but they were all cleared of planning future attacks, which they were overheard discussing by police surveillance of their meeting place in Christiania.
The evidence that the men had participated in arson attacks was clear. Four of them were caught red-handed while attempting to set fire to a police school in April 2011, the second attack against the school after a first fire that destroyed 13 police cars. Police also found Molotov cocktails stored in a freezer at their meeting place.
The prosecution was less successful, however, at convincing the jury that the men’s actions constituted terrorism. One of the chief arguments was that the men’s targets were typical targets of the far-left community that they belonged to. The prosecution also argued that the men’s intention was to ‘significantly frighten the population’, the legal definition of a terrorist act.
The men’s defence lawyers countered that the men’s actions targeted symbols, rather than people, and that the men’s attacks were barely registered by the public.
“How could the actions significantly scare a population when no one knows about it?” defence lawyer Michael Juul Eriksen asked.
Each charge required a majority verdict by both a panel of three judges and six jurors – and on some charges it was close.
All three of the judges and three of the jurors wanted to find two of the men guilty of terrorism, but because there was no majority among jurors, the men were found not guilty.
The judges were clear in their opinion, however.
“They targeted representatives of state power, large and international businesses and one of the country’s largest banks,” the judges stated in their verdict. “As a result it has been found that the arson attacks and the attempted attacks were designed to seriously scare the population and do serious damage to Denmark.”
Among the charges levelled against the men, the man referred to only as FP was found guilty of arson attacks against Saga Fur, Rigspolitiet, the police school, a Nordea bank location and the Greek Embassy.
FP, along with the defendant referred to as PJ, was also found guilty of further attacks against the fur companies Pelsbox and Kopenhagen Fur.
The three other men on trial – DP, TH and AC – were found guilty, along with PJ, of the attacks against the police school where they were apprehended.
Had the men been found guilty of the terrorism charges, it could have resulted in life imprisonment.