Muslim Wire

‘I have great trust in German justice’

Posted in Non Muslims, Politics, Society by muslimwire on October 27, 2009

Dresden, Germany – A court heard details on Monday of the murder of a pregnant Egyptian woman by a man said to be motivated by “pure hatred of non-Europeans and Muslims.”

Alex W, 28, a German of Russian origin, is accused of stabbing to death Marwa al-Shirbani at an appeal hearing against a fine he had been ordered to pay for verbally abusing her in 2008.

The July 1 killing, in the same building in Dresden where the trial is being held, provoked angry reactions in Egypt and a death threat against the defendant.

Alex W was brought into the courtroom shackled by his hands and feet, and shrouded by a hood, a face mask and sunglasses. He refused to communicate with the court, as he sat with his back to the room.

Senior prosecutor Frank Heinrich told the court that Alex W attacked al-Shirbini, 31, and her husband, “in order to kill them,” and had stabbed the couple “with great vehemence.”

The courtroom setting made it even harder for the couple to escape the unexpected attack, the prosecutor added.

“(Alex W) knowingly exploited the circumstances to extinguish the lives of the couple out of pure hatred towards non-Europeans and Muslims, whom he doesn’t grant the right to live,” Heinrich said.

The unemployed 28-year-old has been charged with murder, attempted murder and causing aggravated bodily harm. He faces life imprisonment if convicted.

Al-Shirbini’s husband, Elwi Ali Okaz, described events clearly, addressing the court in Arabic on the first afternoon of the trial. The 32-year-old was badly injured in the frenzied attack.

The couple had been about to leave the courtroom with their three-year-old son when Alex W attacked them, Okaz said. At first his wife was hit and pushed, he said, adding that he was also hit when he tried to protect her.

Okaz said he only noticed the knife after the defendant had stabbed his wife several times. “When he attacked me, I saw that he was holding something sharp,” the widower said.

At that moment, Okaz said, people stormed the room and shots were fired. Shortly after, he lost consciousness.

It turned out that a policeman had accidentally shot Okaz in the leg, having mistaken him for the assailant.

The couple’s son, who witnessed the ordeal, had been present in the courtroom since he had been too ill to attend nursery that day. The boy was now living with relatives in Egypt, the father said.

“He misses his mother very much, he is suffering,” Okaz said of his son.

Al-Shirbini and her husband had lived in Dresden for several years. Okaz had been writing a doctorate in molecular cell biology and genetics at the Max Planck Institute. His wife worked at a pharmacy.

“I surely don’t have a good feeling about staying in Dresden, after all that has happened,” Okaz said.

The hearing in July came after Alex W appealed a 330-euro (480- dollar) fine he was ordered to pay for verbally abusing al-Shirbini at a children’s playground in August 2008.

He had called al-Shirbini a “terrorist” after she asked him to stop sitting on a child’s swing so her son could use it, witnesses told police. Al-Shirbini was wearing a headscarf at the time.

Al-Shirbini’s widower told the court that his wife had not initiated the proceedings against Alex W. She had called the police after the playground incident, it is likely that this triggered the investigation.

Egypt’s ambassador to Germany, Ramzy Ezzeldin, said he expected a fair trial as he arrived to witness proceedings at the Dresden court.

“I have great trust in German justice,” the diplomat said just before the case got underway.

Maria Boehmer, a top aide to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, called for a calm and considerate approach to the trial, adding that it was being closely followed by people around the world.

“This makes it all the more important to trust and respect the independence of German justice,” said Boehmer, who is Germany’s commissioner for minority affairs.

The Central Council of Muslims had called earlier for a clear political signal.

“Germany’s reputation has suffered badly. Politics is ignoring Islamophobia and the consequences of such occurrences,” said the Council’s president, Ayyub Axel Koehler.

The trial, expected to last 11 days, is to continue Tuesday with a statement by the judge who was present at the July 1 hearing. – Sapa-dpa

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