Man suspected of cartoons revenge plot kills himself

A PAKISTANI student suspected of planning to attack the editor of a German newspaper that reprinted caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad has killed himself in prison, authorities said yesterday.

German justice ministry spokeswoman Juliane Baer-Henney said Amer Cheema, 28, hanged himself in his cell.

However, Pakistani politicians yesterday claimed his family believed Cheema, a master's degree student of textile production who had been in Berlin visiting a friend, had been tortured to death.

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Three MPs from a coalition of religious parties successfully introduced a motion in Pakistan's national assembly to discuss the student's death.

However, the deputy head of Pakistan's embassy in Berlin, Khalid Qaiser, said embassy officials had told the man's family that the cause of death was suicide, and the Berlin justice ministry said there was no indication anyone else had been involved in his death.

"There were no indications of involvement of other persons," said Ms Baer-Henney. "He used his clothing to fashion a noose and hanged himself on the grill over his window."

Cheema was arrested after trying to enter the Axel Springer publishing house building in Berlin, carrying a knife. Mr Springer is the publisher of Die Welt, which in February republished the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that first appeared in September in a Danish publication.

The cartoons sparked Muslim rallies across the world. Some of them turned violent and in Pakistan at least five people died.

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