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CRIME

Far-right vigilantes could face terror charges

Federal prosecutors in Karlsruhe confirmed on Friday that they had requested files on members of a far-right Bürgerwehr (vigilante group) in Freital, Saxony, who could face terrorism charges.

Far-right vigilantes could face terror charges
Anti-asylum demonstrators face off with police in Freital, Saxony, in June 2015. Photo: DPA

While federal authorities have yet to take over the case from state prosecutors in Saxon capital Dresden, the investigation is a step towards the group facing a trial at the federal level.

The files cover two cases against a total of five men and one woman aged between 18 and 40.

They are accused of attacking refugee accommodations and refugee aid workers.

Dresden-based prosecutors had flagged up the case to their federal colleagues in Karlsruhe because they suspected it could qualify for the serious crime of “forming a terrorist group”.

One of the two cases concerns an attack on an asylum accommodation centre on the outskirts of Freital, which became notorious in summer 2015 as a hotspot of anti-refugee sentiment after weeks-long demonstrations against refugee accommodations and repeated attacks against asylum seekers.

The case also covers an attack using explosives and butyric acid against an “alternative living project” for refugee supporters in Dresden.

The state trial against the five suspects – men aged 18, 24, 27 and 29, and a 27-year-old woman – had been due to start imminently, but the charges were withdrawn to allow the federal prosecutors time to examine the files.

One of the accused in the first case, the 27-year-old man, is also believed to have been involved in a case of serious bodily harm against refugee supporters.

He and two other men are accused of a baseball bat attack against people who took part in a welcome demonstration in Dresden last summer.

One of the victims was the son of the deputy Minister-President of Saxony, Martin Dulig.

Police raids by the Politically Motivated Crimes Unit (PMK) and Anti-Extremism Unit (OAZ) in Freital and Dresden in November and March turned up explosives, Nazi memorabilia and computers.

The OAZ released figures on Tuesday reporting that it had investigated 208 cases with a far-right political background and solved 123 of them in 2015, broadcaster MDR reported.

CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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