June 22, 2011 / 12:40 PM / 8 years ago

Denmark stiffens sentence for cartoonist attacker

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - A Danish appeals court Wednesday lengthened the prison sentence of a Somali man to 10 years from nine for attempting to kill a cartoonist whose 2005 drawing of the Prophet Mohammad provoked Muslim outrage.

Muhudiin Mohamed Geele broke into the home of cartoonist Kurt Westergaard with an axe on New Year’s Day last year.

The 29-year old was sentenced to nine years imprisonment in February after he was found guilty of attempted terrorism, manslaughter and violence against a police officer.

But prosecutors appealed and asked for a 12-year sentence.

The court called the attack an attempt to frighten the population and destabilize society, and thus an act of terror.

Geele was also sentenced to be expelled and banned from Denmark for life after serving his sentence.

He had pleaded not guilty to the terror and manslaughter charges, but guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon and breaking and entering. He said he had entered the cartoonist’s home intending only to frighten him.

Westergaard’s drawing of the Prophet with a turban resembling a bomb was one of a dozen cartoons lampooning Islam published in 2005 by the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, which led to violent protests in 2006.

Most Muslims consider any depiction of the founder of Islam offensive.

Westergaard’s cartoon was the one that attracted the most attention. He has lived for years under police protection following threats against him, fellow cartoonists and the paper.

On December 29, Danish and Swedish police arrested five men suspected of plotting a “Mumbai-style” attack to kill as many people as possible at a Copenhagen building that houses Jyllands-Posten.

Earlier this month, an ethnic Chechen man was found guilty of an attempted act of terrorism against the newspaper after he accidentally set off a small blast at a Copenhagen hotel, injuring only himself.

Reporting by Mette Fraende; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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