Prosecutors say four Muslims were plotting to "kill a large number of people" at the Jyllands-Posten daily's offices in Copenhagen. They pleaded not guilty ... because according to Islamic law, they aren't guilty, doncha know?
ATTACK PLOT: FOUR MEN SUSPECTED OF PLANNING A MASSACRE AT A DANISH NEWSPAPER THAT PUBLISHED CONTROVERSIAL CARTOONS OF MOHAMMED ARRIVE AT THE COURTHOUSE. PICTURE: AFP AFPFour plead not guilty to plot to massacre Danish newspaper staff over Mohammad cartoons NY Post
COPENHAGEN -- Four men pleaded not guilty Friday as they went on trial in Denmark over a suspected plot to massacre the staff of a newspaper that first published controversial cartoons of the Prophet [sic] Mohammad.
Sahbi Ben Mohamed Zalouti, Munir Awad and Omar Abdalla Aboelazm -- all Swedish citizens of Tunisian, Lebanese and Moroccan origin, respectively -- along with a Tunisian national living in Sweden, Mounir Ben Mohamed Dhahri, face charges of "attempted terrorism."
Prosecutors say the four were plotting to "kill a large number of people" at the Jyllands-Posten daily's offices in Copenhagen when they were arrested Dec. 29, 2010.
Jyllands-Posten published a dozen cartoons in 2005 of the Prophet Muhammad that triggered violent and sometimes deadly protests around the world.
A machine gun with a silencer, a revolver, 108 bullets, rolls of duct tape and $20,000 were among the items found in the men's possession when they were arrested.
Danish police, who collaborated with their Swedish counterparts and wiretapped the men, swooped in just after hearing them say they were "going to" the newspaper office.
One of the two prosecutors, Henrik Plaehn, told the Glostrup district court that a ceremony celebrating Denmark's Sporting Newcomer of the Year at the newspaper was likely the target of the suspected plot. In addition to a number of sports celebrities, Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik was present at the ceremony.
Plaehn also argued that there was evidence the plot had links to Pakistan but said he would provide more details later in the trial, which is set to last until June. At least one of the men is known to have international ties. Awad was arrested twice before while abroad -- once in Somalia and once in Pakistan -- over suspected terrorist links, Sweden's foreign ministry said last year.
Zalouti also previously was arrested in Pakistan for entering the country illegally.
On Friday, the four accused all pleaded not guilty to the terrorism charge, but Dhahri did plead guilty to arms possession.
The prosecution did not yet say what penalty it will seek beyond a request that the four be expelled from Denmark and never allowed to return, after serving their sentences. According to public broadcaster DR, however, they all risked "a historically severe punishment," with up to 14 years behind bars.