A far-right extremist has been sentenced to life in jail for an attack on a German synagogue on the most holy day of the Jewish calendar.
Stephan Balliet, 28, was convicted of two counts of murder and 66 counts of attempted murder, bodily harm and incitement, after the shooting in Halle, eastern Germany, on 9 October 2019.
He tried to shoot his way into the synagogue’s Yom Kippur morning prayer service, but couldn’t open the heavy doors, his trial heard.
Streaming the attack live on an online gaming site, he then killed a 40-year-old woman in the street outside and went to a nearby kebab shop where he killed a 20-year-old man and wounded several others.
Judges at Naumburg state court, which sat in the state capital of Magdeburg instead for “security and capacity reasons”, found him “seriously culpable”.
This means his life sentence will be at least 15 years in prison, as he will be ineligible for early release.
Judge Ursula Mertens described it as a “cowardly attack”, considered to be one of the worst anti-Semitic incidents in Germany’s post-war history.
Balliet, who had posted neo-Nazi material online before the atrocity, had already said he wanted to kill all 51 people inside the synagogue.
He apologised for murdering one of his victims, claiming: “I didn’t want to kill whites.”
The 28-year-old has been on trial since July and wore a face mask as he was sentenced.
He gave no emotional reaction but did write notes.
German authorities have vowed to step up measures against far-right extremism following the Halle attack, the killing of a regional politician by a suspected neo-Nazi and the fatal shooting of nine people of immigrant backgrounds in Hanau – all within the space of a year.
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