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CRIME

Five injured in neo-Nazi attack near Dresden

Five people were injured on Saturday evening when a group of neo-Nazis attacked two buses full of left-wing activists at a motorway rest stop after more than 10,000 people protested a massive far-right demonstration in Dresden.

Five injured in neo-Nazi attack near Dresden
Anti-fascist protestors in Dresden were attacked afterwards. Photo: DPA

“The neo-Nazis attacked our two buses with the words ‘attack anti-fascists,’ bottles and blocks of ice weighing several kilos,” Holger Kindler, head of the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB), which took part in the anti-fascist protest, told news agency AP.

One man suffered a severe skull fracture when between 15 and 20 neo-Nazis attacked the occupants of two buses at Teufelstal near Jena on the A4 motorway when they were returning to their vehicles after a pit stop. He was to undergo surgery on Monday, news agency DDP reported.

The attack on the some 80 union members, peace activists and Left party members from the states of Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia occurred when they were on their way home from protesting a 6,000 strong neo-Nazi march to commemorate the victims of the 1945 Allied bombing raids on the eastern German city. Police have created a special commission to investigate the incident.

The bus full of 41 neo-Nazis had left the scene of the attack by the time police arrived, but they were stopped some 15 kilometres down the road, where police took down their personal information, authorities said. Police believe the rest stop attackers were from the states of Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, as well as from Sweden.

At the time police were not aware of the extent of injuries to the five attack victims, and none of the bus occupants were arrested. But on Monday police issued a nationwide warrant for three Swedish neo-Nazis who were on the bus. Though authorities aren’t sure whether they were among those who participated in the violence, they are still considered a flight risk, news agency DPA reported.

“It is inconceivable that the departure of these dangerous thugs could go unobserved by the police,” Deputy Chairman of the Left party Bodo Ramelow told DPA, demanding an investigation by the Thuringia state parliament.

But a spokesperson from the Thuringia Interior Ministry said it would have been impossible for authorities to enact a “total surveillance” on all demonstration participants.

More than 4,000 police from several states were on hand in the eastern German city on Sunday to prevent conflict between the two groups over their differing views on the air raid anniversary.

But they failed to stop Dresden residents from being harrassed by the right-wing extremists.

One Asian woman said she and her daugther were verbally assaulted and threatened in a Tchibo store in the city’s main train station over the weekend.

“We were pushed against the wall by a group who identified themselves as neo-Nazis and were called ‘you ugly monkey’ and told that ‘Germany does not belong to you’ and ‘get out of Germany’,” she told The Local.

Even though she identified the men to police officers at the train station, they did not take action against the far-right extremists.

“In short, the police did nothing to stop the continuing harrassment of coloured people in Dresden,” the woman, who described herself as former diplomat, said.

The British and American bombing of the city once known as “Florence on the Elbe” is now widely considered to have been militarily unnecessary towards the close of World War II. An estimated 25,000 people are believed to have been killed in the bombings. The city has rebuilt much of its historic centre and long since moved on, but the bombing continues to stoke controversy.

Far-right groups have for years used the anniversary of the Allied Dresden bombings for propaganda purposes. Members of Germany’s far-right NPD party in the Saxon parliament have scandalized the city by referring to it as the “Bombing Holocaust.”

Meanwhile Stephan Kramer, general-secretary of the German Jewish Council, told daily Berliner Zeitung on Monday that the large neo-Nazi turn out at the Dresden march was a dramatic signal that fears of growing right-wing extremist movements are justified.

CRIME

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.

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