A Somali man charged with trying to kill a Dane who caricatured the Prophet Mohammed pleaded not guilty to attempted murder on the first day of his trial Wednesday, insisting he had only aimed to scare the cartoonist.

"I was irritated and frustrated by his comments. I wanted to frighten him but not to kill him," Mohamed Geele, 29, told a packed court in the central Danish town of Aarhus, speaking calmly in Danish.

The Somali is accused of breaking into 75-year-old Kurt Westergaard's home on January 1 last year wielding an axe and trying to kill him.

He could face life in prison if found guilty on all counts: attempted terrorism, attempted murder, attacking a police officer and illegal arms possession.

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