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Dresden Islamist knife attacker jailed for life

May 21, 2021

The 21-year-old Syrian, motivated by homophobia, has received the maximum sentence possible after a fatal attack on a gay couple in Dresden.

Police investigate the crime scene in October 2020
The offender had just been released from juvenile detention where he was held for plotting an attack and promoting the Islamic StateImage: Roland Halkasch/dpa/picture-alliance

A 21-year-old Syrian man was found guilty of murder on Friday, seven months after a fatal knife attack on a gay couple.

A court in the eastern German city of Dresden sentenced him to life in prison.

The man, identified as Abdullah A. in accordance with German privacy regulations, was classified as an Islamist threat by investigators.

He attacked two German men in October 2020, killing one 55-year-old and seriously injuring his 53-year-old partner. Prosecutors said he was motivated by religious-inspired homophobia.

Prosecutors had asked for the maximum sentence with a determination of the special gravity of guilt.

The defense team had argued that he should treated under the more lenient juvenile criminal law.

How did the crime unfold?

The men, both from the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, were on an e-bike holiday in Dresden. They had been together for more than eight years and hoped to move in together after their trip.

The offender had just been released from juvenile detention for a 2018 conviction on promoting the Islamic State (IS) terrorist network and plotting attacks.

Upon his release, he acquired two brand-new kitchen knives from a supermarket. Carrying them in his backpack, he was allegedly on a mission to "kill infidels." Half an hour later he allegedly found his targets.

"Suddenly there was a blow, a complete surprise, in the back," the surviving victim told investigators. The aftermath was a blur. "I can't remember anything and, to be honest, I'm glad I don't." 

The offender said he was motivated by the victim's sexuality. He said the couple were committing a "grave sin" and wanted to punish them for it with death.

Could the crime have been prevented?

During the nine-day trial, the court heard from about 20 witnesses, including a young, tearful woman who saw the attack from a nearby cafe, and the policeman who attended to victims.

His defense lawyers said prison authorities had allowed him to be radicalized, by not giving him religious council and leaving him isolated.

Before his release, he had been deemed a high-risk offender, prompting questions from the victims' families about whether the crime could have been prevented.

aw/rt (AFP, dpa, epd)