Biker gang murder trial begins and adjourns amid further clashes | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 22.12.2009
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Biker gang murder trial begins and adjourns amid further clashes

The trial of two Hell's Angels members, accused of killing a member of the "Outlaws" in July, was adjourned on Tuesday an hour after getting underway. Outside the courthouse, members of the two gangs clashed.

Hells Angels motorcycle gang

The trial of the two Hell's Angels is postponed

Before even the charges were read in the court in the southwestern city of Kaiserslautern on Tuesday, the murder trial involving two members of the motorcycle gang Hell's Angels was brought to a temporary close.

A defense attorney for one of the accused submitted a request to have one of the presiding judges replaced, objecting to what the attorney called the judge's "incompetency."

The proceedings are now postponed until January 7, at which point the other presiding judges will decide on who will hear the case.

Before the proceedings were adjourned, the two accused, aged 42 and 29, sat in the court room separated from spectators by bullet-proof glass.

The 29-year-old defendant was wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, symbolic of his allegiance to the Hell's Angels, whose official colors are red and white.

The 42-year-old defendant, meanwhile, was wearing a black jacket, a sign that some have speculated may mean that he is no longer part of the gang. After the murder of the Outlaw member in July, the 42-year-old man turned himself into the police and has been living in witness protection ever since.

A third Hell's Angels member accused of being involved in the murder remains at large.

Police looking to prevent 'blood feud'

German police barracading Hells Angels members

Hundreds of police couldn't keep the two groups apart

Outside the courtroom on Tuesday, over 1,000 Hell's Angels and Outlaws gathered in support of the defendants. According to reports, some members managed to break through barriers set up by police to keep the two rival gangs apart.

In the clashes that ensued, reports say pieces of concrete were thrown, injuring one officer and damaging several cars.

Hundreds of police officers were present in and outside the courtroom in an attempt to prevent violence between the two gangs.

The prosecution alleges that the July offense was a rivalry killing, which came in response to the 42-year-old defendant being beaten by Outlaw members just days before.

The prosecution argues that the 42-year-old man, together with his other two accomplices, sought out the member who conducted the beating at a nearby Outlaw hangout and pursued him after he left the establishment.

Two Bandidos members at a rally in the western Ruhr region

Hell's Angels are at odds with the Bandidos, too

The three men, in a car, then allegedly passed the 45-year-old victim, on motorcycle, and forced him to a stop on a country road outside of the village of Stetten, near Kaiserslautern. The prosecution accuses the Hell's Angels of then beating and stabbing the Outlaw member who died hours later in a nearby hospital.

Across Germany, violent incidents involving the Hell's Angels are becoming more frequent.

Last month, in the western Ruhr Valley region, a series of clashes between Hell's Angels and the "Bandidos," another American-based biker gang, caused the German police association to call for both groups to be banned permanently in Germany.

According to German authorities, there are several thousand members of such motorcycle gangs in the country, the most of which belong to the Hell's Angels.

glb/AP/dpa
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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