German courtroom killer gets life


A man has been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of murdering a pregnant Egyptian woman in a German courtroom.
The Dresden state court also ruled that Alexander Wiens would not be eligible for early release.

Wiens, 28, admitted stabbing Marwa Sherbini to death at a court hearing involving them both in July.

The crime sparked outrage across the Muslim world. Egypt said justice had been served with the sentence.

Wiens, a Russian-born German citizen, had argued his action was not premeditated.

But prosecutors at the trial, which took place amid tight security, insisted he was motivated by a “hatred of non-Europeans and Muslims”.

‘Martyr of the hijab’

The case began with an argument in a playground in 2008.

Ms Sherbini, a pharmacist, is said to have asked Wiens to let her child use a playground swing he was sitting on. He refused and instead called her abusive names.

She later took the defendant to court and he was fined 780 euros ($1,170; £718) for defamation.

But when Wiens returned to the courtroom for an appeal hearing on 1 July this year, prosecutors say he smuggled in an 18cm (7in) kitchen knife and stabbed Ms Sherbini at least 16 times with it.

The 31-year-old, who was three months pregnant with her second child, bled to death in front of her husband and their three-year-old son.Her husband was himself stabbed as he tried to protect his wife, and also accidentally shot in the leg by a security guard who initially believed him to be the attacker.

Wiens was also found guilty of attempted murder and causing bodily harm for this attack.

Egyptian Ambassador Ramzi Izz al-Din told reporters outside court that “justice has been honoured”.

He said: “Getting the maximum possible sentence, I think that itself says a lot.”

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said in a statement quoted by AFP news agency: “The verdict, the maximum punishment under German law, serves justice and is considered a warning to those motivated by hate.”

Many Muslim leaders had accused Germany of Islamophobia following the killing.

They said the country, which has the second-biggest Muslim population in Western Europe, had been too slow to condemn it.

Ms Sherbini, who wore a headscarf, was dubbed “the martyr of the hijab”.

Thousands attended her funeral in Egypt, some chanting “Death to Germany”, and there were also mass protests in Iran.

On Wednesday, outside the courtroom, about 200 people staged a demonstration calling for the German government to do more to counter racism, particularly on the internet.


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