Immigrants receive stiff sentences for brutal subway attack

Immigrants receive stiff sentences for brutal subway attack
A surveillance photo of the attack in Munich. Photo: DPA
A German court on Tuesday convicted a young Turkish man and a Greek youth of attempted murder and handed them severe prison sentences for a brutal attack on a pensioner in a Munich subway station.

The case, which sparked a political storm in Germany over crime committed by young immigrants, reached its conclusion on Tuesday as a Munich state court sentenced Turkish national Serkan Aksu, 21, to 12 years in prison. It gave 18-year-old Spyridon Loukas an 8-and-a-half-year sentence imposed under juvenile law, because he was 17 at the time of the attack last December.

Surveillance cameras at the station captured the two men, who grew up in Germany, assaulting a 76-year-old former teacher after he admonished the two for lighting up in a no-smoking zone. Aksu and Loukas knocked the pensioner to the ground, kicking him in the head and nearly killing him.

The pair admitted carrying out the attack and apologized to the victim in court. He has largely recovered from a triple fracture to the skull and internal bleeding, but testified at the trial that he still had head pain. He told reporters he did not regard the apologies as sincere.

The incident made national headlines over Christmas last year and prompted conservative governor of the neighboring state of Hesse, Roland Koch, to make youth crime the centerpiece of his fractious re-election campaign in January.

Koch declared that “we have too many criminal young foreigners” and argued that “zero tolerance against violence” must be an important part of integration policy. His comments sparked accusations of xenophobia and calls for boot camps and deportation of foreign offenders from hardline centre-right politicians. The issue however appeared to backfire when Koch’s party suffered large losses in the election.

A top Bavarian official said before Tuesday’s verdict that the assailants should be thrown out of Germany once their sentences are served, AP reported.

“No one would understand it if foreigners who show such brutality were able to continue staying in Germany,” the state’s conservative interior minister Joachim Herrmann said on Monday.