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Bhatti thrown out of terror trial

Arfan Bhatti, the first Norwegian to be indicted but later acquitted of terrorist charges, showed up on Friday in the Oslo courtroom where three other men are defending themselves against similar charges. The judge evicted Bhatti, who then allegedly threatened a TV2 photographer. Now TV2 may file charges against Bhatti.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the incident arose after Bhatti had entered the courtroom as terror defendant Mikael Davud resumed his testimony. Bhatti reportedly sat at the rear of the courtrooom, but prosecutor Geir Evanger had noted his arrival. During a break in proceedings, Evanger indicated that he thought it was unfortunate Bhatti was present. He asked the court to expel Bhatti, and the judge agreed. Bhatti then left the courtroom.

A TV2 photographer followed him out, however, after Bhatti had turned towards the prosecutor and police intelligence officers present and addressed them as “svin” (pigs). Bhatti then turned on the photographer and allegedly threatened him and his family. TV2’s news editor later told NRK that the television station has “zero tolerance” for threats against its journalists, and said the threat would be reported to police.

Evanger wouldn’t say why he was bothered by the presence of Bhatti, who has a record of criminal convictions, but Evanger cited a law that allows court expulsion of persons who have been convicted of crimes within the past five years. That was confirmed by Bhatti’s own lawyer John Christian Elden. He told Dagbladet that three men now on trial face charges for the same offenses that Bhatti was acquitted of, and that Bhatti wanted to see whether the state had found new methods of prosecution.

Defendant admits terrorist training
Meanwhile, Davud admitted in court this week that he did have contact with terror organization al-Qaida but didn’t train with al-Qaida because their requirements were too high. “They demanded that you had to stay with them for a year and then make a vow,” Davud said. News bureau NTB reported that Davud also would have had to operate on their terms, according to his testimony in court.

Davud, a Uighur who came to Norway as a refugee, testified mostly about his hatred for China. He testified that he wanted to attack the Chinese Embassy in Oslo, as an act of revenge for what he considered China’s brutal repression of the Uighur people.

He seemed to attempt to exonerate his two fellow defendants, Shawan Bujak and David Jakobsen, testifying that he hadn’t told them about his terror training that he claimed took place in Iran, not in Pakistan as prosecutors have charged.

Davud’s testimony differed from earlier claims by Bujak that the group’s target was Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and, later, the newspaper’s artist Kurt Westergaard. Jakobsen has cooperated with Norwegian authorities. All three men have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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