The murder last September in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which has seen 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 accused to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time. After a brief argument, the accused left.
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The suspect – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he brought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.
Prosecutors say he then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.
Addressing the district court in Bad-Kreuznach, prosecutor Nicole Frohn said 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.
His trial is scheduled to last until mid-May. As well as murder, he has been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm.
Germany this month relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, but face masks are still required in some indoor settings.