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Germany synagogue shooting: Murder charges filed

April 21, 2020

The right-wing extremist believed to be behind the attack in October was also charged with the attempted murder of 68 people. The man attempted an attack on the temple after posting an anti-Semitic diatribe online.

People gather around lit candles, placed outside the synagogue in Halle, Germany October 11, 2019, after two people were killed in a shooting.
Image: Reuters/H. Hanschke

German prosecutors said Tuesday that they have charged the avowed right-wing extremist with double murder and the attempted murder of 68 people. The deadly terrorist attack took place on a synagogue and a kebab shop in the eastern city of Halle

The 28-year-old German man, identified only as Stephan B., also faces charges of incitement, bodily harm and predatory extortion, and was accused of acting based on "anti-Semitic, racist and xenophobic sentiments." 

Police say the defendant attempted to carry out a mass shooting at the synagogue on October 9 last year, which was Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Shortly before the attack, he is said to have posted an anti-Semitic diatribe online, made up of three documents in which he called for Jews to be killed. 

Read more:  Germany: Thousands attend concert honoring victims of Halle shooting

'He wanted to kill the worshippers'

Fifty-two people had gathered in the synagogue, which the attacker drove, bearing eight firearms, several explosive devices, a helmet and a vest, according to his indictment. He wanted to "kill as many of the attendees as possible," the prosecutors said. 

After throwing an explosive onto the property and unsuccessfully trying to open the synagogue’s front door and force open a gate, he shot dead a 40-year-old woman who was outside of the temple. 

View of the entrance door to the Jewish synagogue with the bullet holes from yesterday's raid on October 10, 2019 in Halle, Germany. Law enforcement authorities, after initially speaking of multiple attackers, are now referring to a single attacker who has been apprehended.
The suspect's efforts to shoot his way through the synagogue's locked door did not workImage: Getty Images/J. Schlueter

"He wanted to kill the worshippers who were there or make them flee out of the synagogue to then be able to shoot them," according to the indictment.

Frustrated by his inability to get into the synagogue, the attacker then decided to "kill people with a migrant background," throwing an explosive device at a nearby kebab shop and shooting a 20-year-old man inside. He live-streamed the entire attack through a popular gaming website, as he had hoped to "present his attack to a broad public and have imitators carry out similar acts," prosecutors said.

He then fled the city, shooting two people in a small town near Halle, where he abandoned his car and stole a taxi to drive onward. The suspect was arrested shortly afterward.

Read more:  German synagogue attacker's online extremist circles revealed

The indictment was filed April 16 at the state court in Naumburg, about 75 kilometers (47 miles) south of Halle, but it was not immediately clear when a trial might take place.

lc/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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