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CRIME

Woman killed in courtroom bloodbath was pregnant

A woman stabbed to death in a Dresden courtroom was three months pregnant, reported German newspaper Bild on Friday.

Woman killed in courtroom bloodbath was pregnant
Photo: DPA

According to Egyptian newspapers, the woman was Marwa al-Sherbini, a 32-year-old Egyptian national who was suing her attacker after he insulted her for wearing the Islamic headscarf. The attacker, identified only as Alex W., was appealing the €780 fine he was ordered to pay in the libel suit.

Al-Sherbini was the wife of Egyptian academic Elwi Ali-Okaz. He was also hurt in the incident after he tried to help his wife and is in critical condition in hospital. Police are now investigating Alex W. for manslaughter.

“The investigation into this bloody crime is bound to show there are some indications the suspect was hostile toward foreigners – the signs are there,” said Saxony police chief Bernd Merbitz told Bild.

Magdi al-Sayed, press officer at the German embassy in Cairo, said the case was isolated and did not reflect German attitude towards Muslims.

“It is a criminal act. It has nothing to do with persecution against Muslims,” Sayed told the Egyptian state newspaper The Gazette.

The stabbing happened July 1, just before al-Sherbini was to give her evidence. During the struggle, other bystanders were also injured and police fired a shot. Al-Sherbini died in the courtroom.

The 28-year-old attacker was overpowered and is now under investigation for manslaughter, a spokesman for the Dresden prosecutor’s office said.

Chairman of the German judge federation Christoph Frank is now demanding that safety and security measures must be brought up to standard.

“Each individual law court must be examined and security infrastructure put in place to better protect citizens,” he said to the Bild.

The incident recalled a similar scene of courtroom violence in the Bavarian town of Landshut in April, when a 60-year-old man shot his sister-in-law before turning the gun on himself, following an inheritance ruling.

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CRIME

Germany busts far-right cell planning attack on parliament

German police launched nationwide raids on Wednesday and made 25 arrests against members of a far-right "terror group" suspected of planning an attack on parliament, federal prosecutors said.

Germany busts far-right cell planning attack on parliament

More than 3,000 officers including elite anti-terror units took part in the early morning raids and searched more than 130 properties, in what German media described as one of the largest police actions the country has ever seen.

The raids targeted alleged members of the “Citizens of the Reich” (Reichsbürger) movement suspected of “having made concrete preparations to violently force their way into the German parliament with a small armed group”, prosecutors said in a statement.

READ ALSO: What is Germany’s extremist Reichsbürger movement?

Those arrested are accused of having formed “a terrorist group by the end of November 2021 at the latest, which had set itself the goal of overcoming the existing state order in Germany and replacing it with their own kind of state”, they said.

Two of the 25 arrests were made abroad, in Austria and Italy.

The Reichsbürger movement includes neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists and gun enthusiasts who reject the legitimacy of the modern German republic.

Long dismissed as malcontents and oddballs, the Reichsbürger have become increasingly radical in recent years and are seen as a growing security threat.

Former soldiers are believed to be among the members of the recently established terror group, federal prosecutors said.

“The accused are united by a deep rejection of state institutions and the free, democratic basic order of the Federal Republic of Germany,” they said.

The suspects were aware that their plan “could only be realised by using military means and violence against state representatives,” they added.

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann praised the dismantling of the “suspected terror cell” on Twitter, saying it showed that Germany was able to defend its democracy.

Russian contacts

Reichsbürger followers generally believe in the continued existence of the pre-war German Reich, or empire, as it stood under the Nazis, and several groups have declared their own states.

They typically deny the authority of police and other state institutions.

According to prosecutors, the terror cell suspects believe in Reichsbürger and QAnon conspiracy theories and are “strongly convinced” that Germany is run by a “deep state” that needs to be toppled.

They allegedly planned to appoint one of the arrested suspects, Heinrich XIII P.R., as Germany’s new leader after the coup.

He had already sought to make contact with Russian officials to discuss Germany’s “new state order” after the coup, prosecutors said.

There was however “no indication that the contact persons responded positively to his request.”

A Russian woman named as Vitalia B., who was among those arrested on Wednesday, is suspected of having facilitated those contacts, prosecutors added.

As part of the preparations for the coup, members of the alleged terror cell acquired weapons, organised shooting practice and tried to recruit new followers, particularly among the military and police, according to
prosecutors.

Germany’s domestic intelligence service estimates that the Reichsbürger scene consists of around 20,000 people.

Of those, more than 2,000 are deemed potentially violent.

Germany considers far-right terrorism the biggest threat to its security following a spate of attacks in recent years.

In April, police foiled a plot by a far-right group to kidnap the health minister.

The group was affiliated with the Reichsbürger movement and the so-called “Querdenker” (Lateral Thinkers) group that opposed the government’s coronavirus-related shutdowns.

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