Dresden (AP) – Following the deadly knife attack in Dresden on a gay couple from North Rhine-Westphalia, a 21-year-old was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The higher regional court (OLG) Dresden found the Syrian, considered an Islamic threat, guilty of murder, attempted murder and dangerous bodily harm on Friday. In addition, the judges also determined the particular gravity of the guilt. This would make an early release of the Syrian after 15 years practically impossible.
In addition, the judges have ordered the reservation of preventive custody, so that it can also be ordered afterwards. According to them, A. is currently dangerous and could commit murder because of his “deep-seated tendency”. The 21-year-old attacked the victims for their homosexual orientation. The decision is not final, the defense wants to hear an appeal.
“It is an act that actually amazes you,” said the chairman of the Senate, Hans Schlueter-Staats. It has been proven beyond any doubt that A. stabbed two men from North Rhine-Westphalia from behind on October 4, 2020. A 55-year-old died, his life partner barely survived. “The suspect acted in a radical Islamist view in an attempt to assassinate representatives of a free, democratic society he had rejected.”
A. attacked two people for no reason to kill them simply because they belonged to a society he considered disbelieving. He had therefore denied them the right to life and, because of their homosexual orientation, which according to A. was a “serious sin”, considered them particularly suitable victims. He had “destroyed a life that destroyed, shattered, damaged others.” The injuries the men sustained testified “with what force and absolute killing intent he stabbed,” and one of them survived “by luck alone.”
“It was an act of religious deception.” A. planned it, thought it was okay, and even wanted to continue killing afterwards. He confessed to the appraiser not out of remorse, but to reveal his motives. According to Schlüter-Staats, the reservation of preventive custody, as in the case of adolescents, does not play a role in how long A. must remain in custody. Life can only be suspended on probation when there is no longer any danger. The fact that the Senate has not imposed them is a sign of the liberal criminal law, “which sees rehabilitation of even the worst offender as possible”. At the moment, however, the judges do not see this with the Syrian.
The federal prosecutor’s office was convinced that the OLG complied with its judgment. Lawyers for the sister of the deceased and the survivor also participated. “A just punishment and a clear signal of the rule of law,” said Maximilian Klefens, the survivor’s lawyer. “My client can now find peace.”
Lawyer Peter Hollstein wants to discuss the verdict with his client, who received the appearance without visible emotion. “I can’t say if he’ll accept it.” The Dresden lawyer had argued for the application of juvenile criminal law because of the necessary “maturity” of the 20-year-old at the time of the crime. In the justification given by the Senate, “nuances emerged here and there that could have been requested.”
A. came to Germany in 2015 as a minor refugee. In 2018, the Higher Regional Court sentenced him to a juvenile sentence for propaganda for the Islamic State (IS) terror network, which was tightened after attacks on law enforcement officials. He was released under strict conditions at the end of September 2020. After the bloody act five days later, he escaped unnoticed. On October 20, he was identified from a DNA trail and caught in the old town – a ham knife with a 20-centimeter blade in his backpack.
The victim commissioners of the federal government, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony condemned the “cruel act”. “Islamist terror threatens our society,” said Edgar Franke, the federal government’s commissioner for victims. The “knife attack” had shown “in a terrible way” that this danger was still acute. His Saxon colleague Iris Kloppich sees the outcome of the trial as a requirement of the “competent authorities” and civil society to address the crime and its causes, as well as the question “how to prevent such crimes in the future”.
Given the motive for the act, the Green Group in Saxony warned that homophobia should be recognized, clearly identified and criminal offenses prosecuted. “Queerophobia should not have a place in our society,” said Lucie Hammecke, equal opportunities agent. The “Networking Against Queer Hostility” – an amalgamation of left-wing and queer groups in Dresden – criticized the fact that the homophobic motif had been hidden by the prosecutor for weeks and only recognized after criticism from the federal prosecutor. Moreover, the “failure to protect the constitution and the LKA” had not been clarified.