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CRIME

Western German court fines ‘sharia police’ patrol

A German court on Monday ordered seven Islamic fundamentalists to pay fines over a so-called "sharia police" patrol they launched in 2014 to mass media and political outrage.

Western German court fines 'sharia police' patrol
The men behind the 'sharia police' patrol on trial on Friday. Photo: DPA

The men aged between 27 and 37 must pay between 300 and 1,800 for infringing laws against wearing uniforms, the Wuppertal tribunal found.

Germany's laws against wearing uniforms originally aimed to prevent neo-Nazis staging rallies and parades.

Judges said the group's actions were aimed at achieving an “intimidating effect suggestive of militancy” by aping the sharia police that exist in some Middle Eastern countries as violent organizations.

In September 2014, the seven patrolled the streets of Wuppertal, a west German industrial town in North Rhine-Westphalia with a sizeable Muslim population, wearing orange high-visibility vests marked “Sharia Police”.

When they encountered young Muslims, they told them not to drink alcohol or visit cafes, betting shops or brothels.

Monday's verdict comes at the end of a second trial for the group after the constitutional court last year overturned their 2016 acquittal.

At the time of the “sharia police” patrol, the men were led by one of Germany's best-known fundamentalist preachers, Sven Lau, a 38-year-old convert to Islam.

He was himself sentenced in 2017 to a five-year jail term in a separate case, after being found guilty of “supporting a terrorist organization” by recruiting potential jihadists to travel to Syria.

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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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