Denmark attacks: Two men charged in Copenhagen

  • 16 February 2015
  • From the section Europe
Media captionOfficers have said the suspected gunman was a gang member

Danish police have accused two men of aiding the gunman who killed two people in the weekend attacks in Copenhagen.

The suspected gunman, named by Danish media as Omar El-Hussein, 22, was shot dead by police after he attacked a free speech debate and a synagogue.

Denmark's PM said he was not a member of a terror cell, according to what was known so far.

The shootings left a film director and a Jewish man dead and five police injured.

The two men being held are charged with providing and disposing of the weapon used in the shootings, as well as with helping the gunman to hide.

Michael Juul Eriksen, a defence lawyer for one of the men, said they denied the charges.

The suspects, who have not been named, appeared in a closed custody hearing on Monday.

The national flag flew at half-mast on official buildings across the capital.

Floral tributes have been placed by mourners at the site of the two attacks.

Some also put flowers at the place where police shot the suspect dead. One told Danish TV2: "I did it because I am Muslim and because I knew him."

In a separate development, controversial cartoonist Lars Vilks - who believes he was probably a target of one of the attacks - now says he has gone into hiding.

'Criminal links'

The attacker was a Danish-born man aged 22, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told a news conference.

"He was known by the police for several criminal acts, including severe violence, and he was also known to be linked to a criminal gang in Copenhagen.

"But I want to also make very clear that we have no indication at this stage that he was part of a cell."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Security has been tightened in Copenhagen following the attacks
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Flags have been flying at half-mast on government buildings
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mourners left floral tributes outside the cultural centre that was targeted
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Flowers were also placed outside the synagogue

Omar El-Hussein was released from prison two weeks before the attacks after reportedly serving a two-year sentence for grievous bodily harm.

Radicalised in jail?

Michael Gjorup, head of the country's prison and probation service, told Danish media that authorities were concerned about changes in El-Hussein's behaviour in prison and passed on information to Danish intelligence before the attack.

The head of Danish intelligence, Jens Madsen, acknowledged that El-Hussein had been "on the radar" of his services.

Mr Madsen said investigators were working on the theory that he could have been inspired by the shootings in Paris last month.

Media captionPM Thorning-Schmidt: Denmark will emerge "more united and stronger"

The attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine, a kosher supermarket and a policewoman claimed 17 lives.

Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard rejected suggestions that El-Hussein may have visited the Middle East but said he may have been radicalised while in prison.

"We are not talking about a foreign fighter who has been abroad fighting in Syria or Iraq," Mr Lidegaard said.

High alert

In the first of the two shootings on Saturday, at a free-speech debate in the east of the city, film director Finn Norgaard, 55, was killed.

In an audio recording of the shooting, the gunman can be heard interrupting the debate and firing dozens of shots.

Hours later, Dan Uzan, a 37-year-old long-time member of the Copenhagen synagogue, was shot dead while on security duty outside the building. Eighty people were celebrating a girl's bat mitzvah, or coming of age, in a hall behind the synagogue at the time.

Media captionAn audio recording captured the moment the gunman struck (Listeners may find content distressing)

The gunman fled by car but was traced by police to the city's Norrebro district. He opened fire when confronted and was fatally shot by officers.

The condition of the five police officers wounded in the attacks is unknown.

Denmark and France remain on high alert.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Monday that the deployment of thousands of police and soldiers at sites across the country, imposed after the January attacks, would stay in place "as long as the threat remains so high".

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Jewish community in Denmark rejected a call by the Israeli prime minister for European Jews to emigrate to Israel after Sunday's attack.

In her statement, Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt said her country would be a lesser place without the Jewish community.

While Danes needed to fully understand the nature of attacks, they must insist on "living lives as we are used to".

"We will not accept any attempt to threaten or intimidate our liberties and our rights."

Who were the victims?

Finn Noergaard, 55, was struck in the chest by a bullet at the free speech debate. The documentary film-maker had a keen interest in the problems faced by the offspring of migrant communities.

His friend Malene Trock told Berlinske daily he was "open-minded" and "cosmopolitan". Producer Torben Larsen is quoted by the AP news agency as saying Mr Noergaard was "a very generous and warm person".

Dan Uzan, 37, was shot dead while standing guard at a Copenhagen synagogue.

He had studied at the city's university and was a keen basketball player, active in a local team. Denmark's chief rabbi, Jair Melchior, said Mr Uzan was an "amazing guy - irreplaceable".

Copenhagen attacks

  • Saturday afternoon: gunman attacks free speech debate hosted by controversial cartoonist Lars Vilks
  • One man killed, three police injured
  • Gunman flees by car - suspected vehicle later found abandoned
  • Gunman calls taxi to take him to address in Norrebro district
  • Police use information from taxi driver to identify address and release CCTV images
  • After midnight on Sunday: gunman opens fire outside a Copenhagen synagogue, killing a Jewish man and wounding two police
  • 03:50 GMT Sunday: Police keeping Norrebro address under observation come under fire from a man
  • They fire back, shooting him dead
  • Police arrest two men on Sunday and later charge them with helping the gunman

Omar El-Hussein: homegrown radical

Why Denmark was steeled for attack

French PM urges Jews to stay after graves desecration

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