As the trial began a group of leftists reportedly chanted “Antifa, Antifa, get out Nazis!” in attempt to keep the defendant's supporters from entering the courtroom. Antifa in German refers to “anti-fascist” supporters.
The courtroom, number 600, was used to try Nazi war criminals after the Second World War, and the leftist demonstrators said they did not want it occupied by modern right-wing extremists.
Court officials' demands to keep apart were ignored and met with verbal sparring between the two sides, and the courtroom was cleared amid loud protests.
A 24-year-old man with admitted ties to the neo-Nazi scene in Fürth faces charges of attempted manslaughter and dangerous bodily harm after beating a 17-year-old student apprentice nearly to death in April 2010 in a Nuremberg U-Bahn metro.
The man became enraged when the teenager allegedly made a disparaging remark about a bum bag worn by his girlfriend from Thor Steinar, a well-known neo-Nazi clothing label.
The 24-year-old from Fürth denied he intended to maim or kill the teen before the court on Thursday, but did acknowledge beating the boy after he remarked “aggressively” on the bum bag. The defendant also said he regretted the incident, in particular the disabilities sustained by his victim.
The now 18-year-old was injured so severely that his heart stopped and he had to be repeatedly resuscitated by rescue workers. After a lengthy hospital stay he remains severely disabled and unable to work in his chosen field of carpentry.
Because he can't remember the assault, the teen appeared in court as a joint plaintiff.
Though he has no memory of it, he told the court that he could certainly imagine making such a remark about the Thor Steinar bag.
“Because I think it's wrong to wear this label that is used mainly by neo-Nazis,” he said, adding that he is an active supporter of the city's leftist scene.
Another four days have been reserved for the trial, with a verdict expected on March 3.