Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 16:35 UK

Firebomb case publisher testifies

The house on Lonsdale Square
The property is the home and office of Gibson Square director Martin Rynja

A publisher whose home was firebombed days before the publication of a novel about the Prophet Muhammad has told a court the book was "well-researched".

Martin Rynja, owner of Gibson Square Books, said it aimed to increase understanding of the seventh century.

Cab driver Abbas Taj, 30, from Forest Gate, east London, denies conspiring to recklessly damage property and endanger life in Lonsdale Square, north London.

Ali Beheshti and Abrar Mirza admitted the same charge in Croydon Crown Court.

The book, the Jewel of Medina, is about the Prophet's wife A'isha.

The court heard Mr Taj waited in a car as the other two men poured diesel through the letterbox and lit a fire at Mr Rynja's Islington home, which was also his office, on 27 September 2008.

'Reconnaissance' missions

Prosecutor David Waters QC said publisher Random House had planned to print the novel but abandoned the plans over concerns about offending Muslims.

Speaking at Mr Taj's trial, Mr Rynja said he decided to print the novel in the UK after reading it and speaking to its American author Sherry Jones.

He said: "I felt it was a book that was well-researched and was trying to bridge the gap in our understanding of that period."

Earlier, Mr Waters said Beheshti, who is unemployed and from Tavistock Gardens, Ilford, and Mirza, a mobile phone salesman from Eastfield Road, Walthamstow, had visited the property twice before the attack - on 9 and 14 September.

Officers found two phones from Mr Taj's car which had photos of the target.

Mr Rynja told the court the house did not have any sign identifying it as an office.

He added that during the second reconnaissance visit in the afternoon he and his partner were at home and were entertaining guests.

Mr Taj was not with the other men when they visited the property before the actual attack, the court heard.

The trial continues.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Driver 'waited for firebombers'
28 Apr 09 |  London
Two admit publisher attack plot
21 Apr 09 |  London
Prophet Muhammad novel scrapped
09 Aug 08 |  Entertainment

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific