Muhammad cartoonist calls attacker 'cowardly liar'

A Danish cartoonist who caricatured the Prophet Muhammad told a court Thursday that the ax-wielding Somali man who broke into his home wanted to kill him and is lying about the purpose of the attack.

Testifying in a terrorism trial, Kurt Westergaard said he feared he would be "slaughtered" by the 29-year-old intruder who stormed into the house on New Year's Day, 2010.

"He was like a religious, insane young man. I believed he entered the house as a holy warrior who wanted to kill an infidel," Westergaard told the court in Aarhus, Denmark's second-largest city.

Westergaard locked himself inside a panic room and escaped the attack unharmed.

The defendant, who cannot be named under a court order, told the court as the trial opened Wednesday that he just wanted to scare the cartoonist and didn't intend to hurt him.

Westergaard said that was untrue, calling the defendant a "madman" as well as a "cowardly liar."

Westergaard's drawing was one of 12 cartoons of Muhammad published by a Danish newspaper in September 2005, triggering violent protests across the Muslim world four months later.

The defendant, who was shot in the knee by police as he left Westergaard's house, is charged with terrorism and with "assault with intent to kill" for hurling the ax at a police officer. He has pleaded not guilty, though he acknowledges acting violently toward the police.

After the attack, Denmark's intelligence agency said the man had links with the Somali militant group al-Shabab and al-Qaida leaders in eastern Africa. A spokesman in Somalia for al-Shabab denied the man is a member of the group.

If convicted of terrorism, the defendant could face life in prison, although such sentences are generally reduced to 16 years under Danish law. A verdict is expect in early February.