The teenage brother of Safia S., imprisoned for stabbing a police officer on behalf of "Islamic State," has gone on trial himself in Hanover. Saleh S. is accused of trying to kill non-Muslims in an alleged arson attack.
The trial began Monday of an 18-year-old accused of attempting to murder "infidels" by throwing two Molotov cocktails into the entrance of a shopping mall. Both devices failed to ignite, and no one was injured in the attack. The man, identified only as Saleh S. in line with German laws to protect the privacy of defendants, has been in psychiatric custody since December.
Authorities say the teenager had hoped to "spread fear and terror in the population."
Prosecutors allege that he traveled to Syria twice to fight alongside extremists. They say that the second time he took his then-15-year-old sister, Safia, to Turkey, where she met with members of the "Islamic State." Less than a month after the girl's return, she had been arrested by German police, allegedly for carrying out orders given by IS.
In January, a court sentenced Safia, now 16, to six years in prison for stabbing a police officer in the neck with a vegetable knife at Hanover's main train station in February 2016. Because of Safia's age, the trial was not open to the public.
According to investigators, Safia had intended to carry out a "martyrdom operation" for IS. The 34-year-old police officer suffered life-threatening injuries but survived after undergoing surgery.
Safia's defense called her sentence "unquestionably high" and announced an appeal. Her lawyers said a teenager lacked the capacity to understand the impact of her actions. The defense team had pushed the court to convict the teenager on the reduced charge of aggravated assault, arguing that the knife attack had resulted exclusively in grievous bodily harm and that Safia had not intended to kill the officer.
Lawyers disputed the charge that Safia supported IS, pointing out that the group's members have not generally apologized to their victims after attacks, as she had when she wrote a letter to the officer while in custody. Nevertheless, in January the judge cited Safia's mobile phone chats as proof of her intent to kill on behalf of IS.
The girl's father, identified only as Robin S., told the RedaktionsNetzwerk news platform that prosecutors had carried out a "show trial" against his daughter because of her religion. "She wore a head scarf," he told the platform, "but she was also a fan of Justin Bieber and played soccer."
Robin said Safia regretted her actions and deserved another chance. "If she had been a punk," he said, "she would have gotten a maximum of two years."
mkg/rt (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)