Sauerland terror suspects fit to stand trial, charges ready

The trial of three Germans alleged to be Islamist terrorists planning attacks on German soil should start soon, with charges against them nearly ready, according to officials.

Sauerland terror suspects fit to stand trial, charges ready
One of the group Photo:DPA

The federal prosecutor is ready to charge Fritz Gelowicz, 29, Daniel Schneider, 22 and Adem Yilmaz, 29, with membership of a terrorist group, and preparation of an explosion, while Schneider will also be charged with attempted murder, Der Spiegel reports at the weekend.

The trio, dubbed the Sauerland terror group, planned car bomb attacks for October 2007, at the same time as Germany was to extend its operations in Afghanistan, police officers told the magazine.

In one bugged phone conversation it was suggested to target a big American disco, taking the attacks of September 11 as inspiration.

Authorities swooped in on the group on September 4, 2007 with hundreds of police officers after a lengthy surveillance operation.

Phone, cars and flats were tapped, and detectives seized several computers, producing thousands of pieces of evidence for the court case.

Magazine Focus says a clear image emerges of the radicalization of the three men, who decided to go to Afghanistan to seek martyrdom.

Psychiatrists have completed their assessment of the men and concluded they are fit to stand trial, the magazine reports.

They went to a training camp in Pakistan, where a senior Islamist gave them a clear aim back in autumn 2006 – they should prepare and carry out attacks in Germany.

The arrest of the three men showed for the first time that Germans could also be recruited into Islamist terrorist circles.

Police found 26 detonators when the raided the group, although experts say most of them would not have worked due to water damage.


German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.