Danish cult leader hires O.J. Simpson lawyer

Reuters/February 20, 2002

Copenhagen -- Reclusive Danish cult leader Mogens Amdi Petersen, arrested in Los Angeles under an Interpol warrant, has hired one of the "dream team" lawyers that defended O.J. Simpson, Danish media say.

Petersen, who has spent more than 20 years avoiding the public eye, has engaged Robert Shapiro as defender in an attempt to avoid extradition to Denmark, where he is wanted for tax evasion and fraud, daily Jyllands-Posten said on Wednesday.

Shapiro helped get former American football star Simpson acquitted of murder charges in a 1995 criminal trial.

Petersen, a former left-wing activist, is a shadowy figure behind several charitable organisations.

The 63-year-old Dane was picked up on Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport during routine immigration checks. He appeared before a federal magistrate on Tuesday to hear details of the warrant, issued by Danish police last December.

Petersen and a group of left-wing teachers founded the Tvind organisation in Denmark in the 1970s. Tvind went on to run a string of charities, schools and projects, primarily in the developing world.

Petersen, a legendary figure in Denmark, has not been interviewed or photographed since 1979. Danish media have reported he spends most of his time at luxury homes in Florida, the Cayman Islands and Zimbabwe.

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