Danish cartoonist escaped certain death

January 20, 2011 12:00 am

, Denmark, Jan 20 – A cartoonist who caricatured the Prophet Mohammed told a Danish court Thursday he narrowly escaped "certain death" when an axe-wielding Somali attacker broke into his home last year.

"He was chopping so violently with his axe on the bathroom door that it began to vibrate… I thought I was going to die," Kurt Westergaard, 75, testified on the second day of the trial of his attacker, Mohamed Geele, in a court in Aarhus, central Denmark.

"It would have been certain death if he had managed to break it (the door) down," he said, categorically rejecting the 29-year-old Somali\’s testimony on Wednesday that he had only wanted to "frighten" the cartoonist.

On the night of January 1, 2010, Geele had broken into Westergaard\’s home in Visby, near Aarhus, screaming, according to the cartoonist\’s testimony: "You must die! You are going to Hell!"

Westergaard, who was alone at home at the time with the five-year-old daughter of a friend, rushed into a bathroom that had been fortified and transformed into a panic room and called police.

When police arrived, Geele came out wielding his axe and a knife. He was shot twice and placed under arrest.

Prosecutor Kristen Dyrman on Wednesday played recordings of Westergaard\’s two frightened calls to police that night for the nine jury members.

"He is breaking down the door! It\’s very violent. You must come immediately," the cartoonist screamed, insisting: "You must come now or I won\’t survive. He is going to kill me!"

Geele however insisted Wednesday that "I was irritated and frustrated by his comments. I wanted to frighten him but not to kill him," adding that he had merely wanted the cartoonist to stop "dirtying" the prophet and Muslims like himself.

Westergaard rejected his attacker\’s explanation.

"He just wanted to frighten me?" he said with an ironic smile. "That is as believable as as a child\’s practical joke," said the cartoonist, wearing a leather coat and red trousers and carrying a cane.

Westergaard has faced numerous death threats since the publication of his drawing of the Prophet Mohammed wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse.

It appeared in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten on September 30, 2005 along with 11 other cartoons of the Muslim prophet, and sparked angry and even deadly protests across the Islamic world in early 2006.


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