A Copenhagen court sentenced two Danish men to eight months in prison each Thursday for raising funds for Arab terrorists in Israel and Marxist rebels in Colombia, Danish TV-2 reports.
The sentence of 72-year-old Anton Nielsen, chairman of the Horserød-Stutthof Association, or Association of Danish Freedom Fighters, was reduced by to two months in consideration of his advanced age. His associate, and the association's spokesman, 52-year old Viggo Toft-Joergensen, is expected to serve the full eight months.
Nielsen and Toft-Joergensen were convicted of transferring $3,400 (17.700 kroner) to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and $1,900 (10,000 kroner) to Colombia's Revolutionary Armed Forces, known as FARC.
The case drew considerable public attention in Denmark where thousands of supporters for Nielsen and Toft-Joergensen came out. Hundreds were turned away at the courthouse doors.
"May we remind you that the founders of our association was also vilified for terrorism, with fatal consequences for the individual, in the extermination camp Stutthof. It was in the year 1940-1945," Anton Nielsen had repeatedly told the press.
The United States and European Union list both FARC and the PFLP as terror organizations.
A Rowdy Hearing
"They had completely open eyes and made the conscious choice to finance terrorism. They had malicious intent," prosecutor James Buch-Jepsen argued.
"It is immaterial whether they considered the FARC and PFLP freedom fighters rather than terrorists," he added.
"Denmark has committed itself to relatively severe punishments in cases of terrorist funding," he continued.
"Anton Nielsen is 72 years, but has just held a May 1 speech. Why should the man not be sentenced to prison," the prosecutor said.
But the reaction of the gallery, packed with supporters of Nielsen, was not in synch with Buch-Jepsen's tough-on-terror sentiment, going so far as to interrupt him with calls of "now you must control yourself."
Echoing public sentiment, Defense lawyer Thorkild Hoyer argued the prosecution's request for a tough sentence was "absurd."
"Anton Nielsen must be dismissed. We should all be glad to hear that there are associations like Horserød-Stutthof, which reminds us of our hard-earned history. One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist," said Hoyer.
Despite the court reducing Nielsen's sentence in consideration of his age a sigh nonetheless pervaded the court when his sentence was handed down and calls of "he must be crazy" were made.
This despite the penal code section the men were charged under allowing for up to ten years imprisonment.
Hoeyer told the press he was as yet unaware whether his clients will file an appeal.