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CRIME

Immigrants receive stiff sentences for brutal subway attack

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.

Immigrants receive stiff sentences for brutal subway attack
A surveillance photo of the attack in Munich. Photo: DPA

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.

CRIME

Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

A German court on Tuesday handed a five-year jail sentence to a 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard, the oldest person so far to go on trial for complicity in war crimes during the Holocaust.

Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

Josef S. was found guilty of being an accessory to murder while working as a prison guard at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945, presiding judge Udo Lechtermann said.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, had pleaded innocent, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said at the close of his trial on Monday.

But prosecutors said he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the camp and called for him to be punished with five years behind bars.

READ ALSO: Trials of aging Nazis a ‘reminder for the present’, says German prosecutor

More than 200,000 people, including Jews, Roma, regime opponents and gay people, were detained at the Sachsenhausen camp between 1936 and 1945.

Tens of thousands of inmates died from forced labour, murder, medical experiments, hunger or disease before the camp was liberated by Soviet troops, according to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum.

Prosecutors said the man had aided and abetted the “execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942” and the murder of prisoners “using the poisonous gas Zyklon B”.

He was 21 years old at the time.

Contradictory statements

During the trial, S. made several inconsistent statements about his past, complaining that his head was getting “mixed up”.

At one point, the centenarian said he had worked as an agricultural labourer in Germany for most of World War II, a claim contradicted by several historical documents bearing his name, date and place of birth.

After the war, the man was transferred to a prison camp in Russia before returning to Germany, where he worked as a farmer and a locksmith.

He remained at liberty during the trial, which began in 2021 but has been delayed several times because of his health.

Despite his conviction, he is highly unlikely to be put behind bars, given his age.

His lawyer Stefan Waterkamp told AFP ahead of the verdict that if found guilty, he would appeal.

More than seven decades after World War II, German prosecutors are racing to bring the last surviving Nazi perpetrators to justice.

The 2011 conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk, on the basis that he served as part of Hitler’s killing machine, set a legal precedent and paved the way for several of these twilight justice cases.

Since then, courts have handed down several guilty verdicts on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused.

By David COURBET

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