Syrian man sentenced for murder of German that sparked far-right violence in Chemnitz
A 24-year-old Syrian man was sentenced to nine and a half years in jail on Thursday in Germany for stabbing to death a man in the city of Chemnitz, a murder that provoked demonstrations by the extreme right and violence against foreigners.
The Dresden court found Alaa Sheikhi guilty of the murder of German Daniel Hillig, 35, on August 26, 2018, following a dispute, although the motives remain unclear.
“There is no doubt about the guilt of the accused,” said the president of the court. The defense, however, had asked that he be acquitted due to lack of evidence. His lawyers, who had warned during the trial against the temptation to pronounce a sentence to “appease Chemnitz” and avoid further incidents, have said they will appeal against the judgement.
A 22-year-old Iraqi, who has been on the run for a year despite an international arrest warrant also participated in the attack, according to the court. He reportedly managed to return to Iraq, according to media reports.
The trial, moved for security reasons in Dresden, highlighted shortcomings in the prosecution case, including the fact that no trace of Sheikhi’s DNA was found on either the knife or the victim.
The main witness of the murder, an employee of a nearby kebabs restaurant, also gave contradictory versions of events under questioning.
The murder sparked a wave of far-right demonstrations in the Chemnitz when a thousand hooligans and neo-Nazis descended on the city in the former communist east of the country.
Amateur videos shot that day showing foreignors insulted and chased on the street caused shock waves in Germany and around the world.
Chancellor Angela Merkel at the time denounced “hatred” and “collective hunts” against foreigners.
The judgment comes ten days before elections in Saxony, and in the neighboring region of Brandenburg, also in the east of Germany that have became bastions of the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD).