Sunday, 26 Sep 2021 - 20 of Tishri, 5782

Far-right extremist sentenced to life in prison for Halle synagogue attack

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Federal Prosecutor, Kai Lohse, emphasized that the assailant ‘’attacked Jewish life in Germany as a whole’’ and that the rampage was a product of his ‘’racist, xenophobic and antisemitic ideology.’’

“I commend the German justice system for imposing the harshest possible sentence on a heartless, vicious antisemite who attempted to murder Jews in a synagogue on the holiest day of the Jewish year, and took the lives of two innocent people who happened to be in his way,’’ said World Jewish Congress President Ronald S.Lauder after a German court sentenced to life in  prison a far-right extremist who attempted in October 2019 to break into a synagogue on Yom Kippour in the town of Halle and then shot two bystanders.

The Federal Prosecutor, Kai Lohse, emphasized that the assailant ‘’attacked Jewish life in Germany as a whole’’ and that the rampage was a product of his ‘’racist, xenophobic and antisemitic ideology.’’

Far-right extremist Stephan Balliet, 27, was found guilty of two murders and more than 60 counts of attempted murder.

In an occasionally emotional reasoning, Judge Ursula Mertens expressed her personal horror at the crimes that the trial had dealt with, occasionally saying she was “at a loss for words.”

Describing the murder of 20-year-old Kevin S. in a kebab shop after the attempted attack on the synagogue, she told the defendant, “You executed the defenseless Mr. Balliet in a cowardly way,” before comparing the attacker to his victim: “Unlike you, he didn’t retreat into his childhood bedroom — he worked, he enjoyed football, he got qualifications.”

Mertens described the defendant as a loner who lived in his childhood bedroom at the age of 27, soaking up “crude conspiracy theories” on the internet and building weapons. The judge said she could not ascertain whether his family could have averted the crimes, but only because they had refused to testify. She said it was obvious no one had tried to disabuse him of his extremist worldview.

The defendant remained mostly impassive as the judge read out her reasoning, which lasted almost three hours, though he occasionally grinned and rolled his eyes.

On October 9 last year, Stephan Balliet attempted to blast his way into the city’s synagogue,where 51 people were observing Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. He failed largely because his arsenal of homemade firearms and explosives couldn’t breach the locked outer gates.

In frustration, he shot dead two other people — 40-year-old passerby Jana L. and 20-year-old Kevin S., a painter eating his lunch in a nearby kebab shop — before firing at several police officers and other passersby as he made his escape.

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