Terrorism

Man convicted of murder, sentenced to life in German synagogue attack

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A German court on Monday convicted a 28-year-old man of murder and attempted murder for a 2019 attack on a Halle synagogue and sentenced him to life in prison.

Stephan Balliet, a far-right extremist, posted an anti-Semitic manifesto before attempting to storm the synagogue on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism. Balliet, who livestreamed the attack, was unable to gain entry to the synagogue after firing at the lock on the front door. He went on to shoot and kill a passerby and open fire into an area Turkish kebab shop, killing one customer. He also shot two other people who were injured.

The court on Monday convicted him of two counts of murder, 66 counts of attempted murder, incitement and bodily harm, The Associated Press reported. The court found Balliet “seriously culpable,” which will make him ineligible for the early release most German prisoners sentenced to life can receive after 15 years.

“You are a fanatical, ideologically motivated lone perpetrator,” Judge Ursula Mertens said, according to the AP. “You are anti-Semitic and xenophobic.”

She noted Balliet had shown no remorse for his actions. At one point in the trial proceedings, Balliet tossed what appeared to be a rolled-up folder at representatives of the victims, after which security removed him from the courtroom.

The attack was one of a string of far-right attacks in Germany that included the assassination of a mayor by a neo-Nazi gunman in summer 2019. In February, a mass shooter targeting immigrants killed 10 people and wounded five more in the town of Hanau.

“The verdict makes clear that murderous hatred of Jews meets with no tolerance,” Josef Shuster, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, said in a statement. “Up to the end, the attacker showed no remorse, but kept to his hate-filled anti-Semitic and racist world view.”

 

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