Syrian jailed for Germany knife killing - GulfToday

Syrian jailed for Germany knife killing

AlaaSGermany

The defendant Alaa S. arrives at the court in Dresden, Germany. Associated Press

A 24-year-old Syrian man was sentenced to nine and a half years in jail on Thursday for a knife killing that sparked racist street violence and far-right protests in the eastern German city of Chemnitz.

 The court found that Alaa Sheikhi, together with an Iraqi man still at large, stabbed to death 35-year-old German Daniel Hillig in the early hours of August 26 last year.

 The manslaughter conviction comes at a sensitive time, one year after thousands of neo-Nazis and enraged citizens marched through Chemnitz, and 10 days before state elections in the ex-communist region.

 The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which has railed against immigrants and Islam, is forecast to poll strongly in the state of Saxony and neighbouring Brandenburg on September 1.

 The court heard that the fugitive Iraqi, a 22-year-old identified only as Farhad A., was first to confront Hillig, a carpenter with German-Cuban roots.

 Both he and Sheikhi then stabbed Hillig, who died of heart and lung wounds, as well as another man, named as Dimitri M., who was badly injured.

 Sheikhi, who arrived in Germany during the 2015 mass migrant influx to Europe, was detained hours after the attack, together with another Iraqi who was later released for lack of evidence.

 Defence lawyer Ricarda Lang had argued that the case against Sheikhi was based only on questionable, late-night witness testimony rather than fingerprints, DNA or other forensic evidence.

 Lang also asserted, shortly before the verdict, that the court may convict and jail the defendant because “someone needs to take the blame so that Chemnitz stays quiet”.

The trial was held not in Chemnitz but in Saxony’s state capital Dresden, for security reasons and because of what the court called the “extraordinarily high public interest”.

 News of the killing a year ago spread within hours on social media and led neo-Nazis, angry football hooligans, extremist martial arts fans and others to march through Chemnitz.  In some cases, the mobs randomly attacked people of foreign appearance and, in follow-up mass rallies, fascist activists openly performed the illegal Hitler salute.

 Local Jewish, Turkish and Iranian restaurants at the time became targets of xenophobic vandalism.

Agence France-Presse