German court sentences man to life imprisonment over shooting near synagogue

Stephan B., who is accused of shooting dead two people after an attempt to storm a synagogue in Halle an der Saale, wears a face mask as he waits for the start of the trial at the district court in Magdeburg, Germany.

A German court on Monday sentenced a man to life in prison for killing two people in a shooting attack near a synagogue in eastern Germany on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur last year.

The Naumburg Higher Regional Court found the man, referred to by authorities only as Stephan B., guilty of murder, attempted murder and incitement, a court spokesman said.

Stephan B., who live-streamed the shooting in the city of Halle on the internet, had confessed to the crime and to a far-right, anti-Semitic motivation.

Prosecutors said he aimed to kill as many as possible of the more than 50 worshippers inside the synagogue. Only his poor aim and the unreliability of his home-made firearms spared nine other people from injury during his half-hour rampage, according to the intended victims.

Life imprisonment in Germany has an indeterminate length and can be changed to parole after 15 years.

But the court’s sentence includes a provision for preventive detention, which denies release after the completion of the prison sentence to protect the public from dangerous criminal offenders.

Anti-Semitic crimes are particularly sensitive in Germany due to the legacy of the Holocaust.

Their number rose by 13% last year, the interior minister said in May, blaming right-wing radicals.

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