A Danish court watched dramatic footage Thursday showing the gunman behind a double shooting in Copenhagen joking in a cafe with his alleged accomplices and pretending to pull a trigger after the attacks that left two people dead.
The court was also shown a grisly video of the gunman, 22-year-old Danish-born Palestinian Omar El-Hussein, shooting a security guard at a synagogue in one of the two attacks in February last year.
The footage was part of the prosecution’s evidence at the opening of the trial of four men accused of helping El-Hussein after the shootings.
The Copenhagen courthouse was guarded by about a dozen heavily armed police (pictured), with Europe still on high alert over fears of jihadist violence following bloody attacks in Paris in 2015.
Prosecutor Bo Bjerregaard accused the four defendants of trying to “destabilise or destroy Denmark’s basic political, constitutional, economic or societal structures”.
Defence lawyers said their clients were innocent of the terror charges against them.
El-Hussein opened fire on February 14, 2015 outside a cultural centre where the speakers included Swedish artist Lars Vilks, a target of Islamic extremists since he portrayed the Prophet Mohammed as a dog in 2007.
Filmmaker Finn Norgaard, 55, died and four police officers were injured.
Later that night, El-Hussein fired six shots outside the city’s main synagogue, killing security guard Dan Uzan, 37, and injuring two more policemen.
The assailant was shot dead by police hours later.
– Known gunman since childhood –
Bjerregaard said the four men had to have been aware of the intentions of the gunman, whom some had known since childhood.
The court named the four as Liban Ahmed Saleban Elmi, 20, Ibrahim Khalil Abbas, 23, Bhostan Khan Hussein, 26 and Mahmoud Rabea, 31, after lifting a ban on their identities.
The prosecution says they committed a “terror offence” by providing El-Hussein with support in the form of ammunition, a hoodie and a bag used in the second attack, and by paying for his time in an Internet cafe where he located the synagogue.
Abbas and Elmi are also charged with helping him dispose of the weapon used at the cultural centre.
The footage of Uzan’s killing was shown only to the judges at the request of his family.
But the full court viewed the images of El-Hussein, Elmi and Abbas in the cafe after the synagogue shooting.
They are seen talking jokingly, and El-Hussein appears to act out pulling the trigger of a weapon.
The prosecution also showed the court the two guns found on El-Hussein’s body after he was killed, and three bullets he was allegedly given from a box of ammunition found at Rabea’s home.
If found guilty, the four risk life imprisonment, which in Denmark means they would be entitled to a pardoning hearing after 12 years.
– Didn’t want to scare anyone’ –
They did not testify in court Thursday, but when Bjerregaard cited Denmark’s terrorism law, which refers to “he who intends to scare a population,” Rabea interrupted, shouting “I did not want to scare any people.”
To secure a conviction, the prosecution has to prove “intent”, meaning they knew about his plans to commit an act of terror.
The trial is expected to run for up to 30 court days through September.
Elmi’s lawyer told AFP that while her client had been friends with El-Hussein since childhood, he knew nothing of his plans.
“He doesn’t deny” meeting up with the gunman on the afternoon of the attacks, “but he denies he knew anything about terror and he didn’t participate in anything concerning terror,” Mette Grith Stage said.
Released from prison just two weeks before the attacks after serving time for a stabbing, El-Hussein was known for his violent temper and for having ties to a criminal gang.
The prosecution said he pledged allegiance to Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Facebook on the day of the shootings, but investigators believe he was not part of a jihadist network.
Danish intelligence agency PET has however been criticised for failing to act on information from prison services that he was at risk of radicalisation.
Little is known about the four suspects, although media reports say they all have criminal records for offences ranging from break-ins to possession of automatic weapons.