Trial Begins For 2019 Germany Synagogue Attack Suspect


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Jewish groups on Tuesday called for justice as a high-profile trial got under way in Germany following the 2019 Halle synagogue attack.

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The attack was one of the worst anti-Semitic crimes in the country’s post-war history.

The start of the trial in the city of Magdeburg was delayed by approximately two hours as crowds of observers and journalists tried to claim their spot in the courtroom.

The rampage on Yom Kippur in October 9, 2019, the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar made international headlines in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks earlier.

This prompted soul-searching in Germany amid concerns of growing anti-Semitism.

A gunman attempted to storm the synagogue by shooting at the building’s heavy wooden door and hurling explosives.

After failing to get in, he shot dead a 40-year-old woman on the street, then headed to a nearby kebab shop where he shot and killed a 20-year-old man.

A couple were also seriously injured during the attack, which was live-streamed on the internet.

Stephan Balliet, a 28-year-old man from the central state of of Saxony-Anhalt, stands accused of the crimes.

He is facing charges of double murder and attempted murder on 68 counts, among other crimes.

The defendant appeared in court wearing a face mask and with his hands and feet in cuffs.

Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, called for the perpetrator to be met with the full force of the law.

He also lambasted right-wing populist and right-wing extremist forces for breaking taboos in German society, noting that “the threshold for violence had fallen alarmingly” as a result.

Prosecutors said Balliet planned to murder fellow citizens of the Jewish faith due to his anti-Semitic, racist and xenophobic disposition.

A manifesto allegedly released by him prior to the attack set out an anti-Semitic world view and spoke of a Zionist-occupied government.
He is said to have armed himself with eight guns, several explosive devices, a helmet and a protective vest to carry out the attack.

Jewish groups are being represented as co-plaintiffs in the trial alongside those who were directly affected by the attack.

Juri Goldstein, a lawyer representing visitors from the Halle Jewish Community, said prior to Tuesday’s opening hearing that they were seeking answers on how someone could become radicalised.

The question is, how could someone develop so much hatred of people whom he does not know at all? Goldstein said.

“Anti-Semitism and right-wing radical ideology are not a new phenomenon in Germany,” said another co-plaintiff, Christina Feist.

“It is high time that we finally recognise this shameful truth,”she added.

The proceedings are currently scheduled to end on October 14.

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