Danes accuse 4 of targeting country's crown prince

Danish prosecutors accused four alleged terrorists on Friday of targeting the country's crown prince as part of a revenge attack on a Danish newspaper that printed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Speaking to the court on the first day of the trial, prosecutor Henrik Plaehn said the four men -- three Swedish citizens and one Swedish resident -- had been arrested hours before an appearance by Crown Prince Frederik at the Politiken newspaper in Copenhagen.

The heir to the Danish throne was to distribute an annual sports award and Plaehn said prosecutors believed that terrorists had intended to launch a violent attack on the ceremony, which eventually took place as scheduled.

Plaehn also said the alleged terrorists were linked with Pakistan, a point he would try to prove during the trial.

Surrounded by heavily armed police, the four defendants were led in handcuffs into the media-packed courtroom just outside Copenhagen, the Danish capital, where they were accused of terrorism and illegal possession of weapons.

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Though Swedish residents, the men -- Munir Awad, Omar Abdalla Aboelazm, Mounir Ben Mohamed Dhahri and Sabhi Ben Mohamed Zalouti -- are originally from Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon.

If found guilty, the four could face up to 16 years in prison. Prosecutors were expected to ask that they be deported from Denmark after serving their sentence.

Henrik Stagetorn, a lawyer for Dhahri, who is not a Swedish citizen, told The Associated Press before the trial that his client would plea guilty to the weapons violation but not guilty to the terrorism charge.

The other three were likely to plea not guilty to both charges.

A verdict in the trial expected in mid-June.

Three of the four defendants were arrested in December 2010 while allegedly on their way to Copenhagen to carry out a shooting attack in revenge for the Jyllands-Posten newspaper's decision to publish 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005.

The fourth, Zalouti, left the car while it was en route and returned to Stockholm, where he was arrested on the same day as the others.

Swedish security police had been monitoring the group for months. After the arrest, Danish security officials described the men as "militant Islamists with relations to international terror networks."

News of the group's alleged attack plans sent a tremor through the largely peaceful Danish society, which is attempting to move past the 2005 cartoon debacle.

Early in 2011, a Danish court declared a Somali man guilty of terrorism for breaking into the home of a Danish cartoonist who had caricatured the Prophet. Wielding an ax, the man entered Kurt Westergaard's home in the northwestern town of Aarhus, though the cartoonist avoided injury by locking himself inside a panic room. The Somali man was eventually sentenced to nine years in prison.