Crime & Justice

German Neo-Nazi handed life sentence for 2019 murder of politician

Berlin, Jan 28 (efe-epa).- A Frankfurt court on Thursday sentenced Neo-Nazi Stephan Ernst to life in prison for the 2019 murder of conservative politician Walter Lübcke in what was the first political murder trial in Germany since the 1970s.

Lübcke was a member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party and a regional governor in the federal state of Hesse at the time of his murder in June 2019.

He had become a hate figure in German far-right circles due to his defense of the government’s open refugee policy.

The politician was shot in the head outside his house.

The assassination shocked Germany and gave rise to questions about the authorities’ ability to track far-right militants and protect potential targets from attacks.

Ernst’s life sentence means he will not be up for parole for at least 15 years.

Another defendant in the trial, alleged co-conspirator Markus H., who provided the murder weapon, was sentenced to one and a half years in prison for illegal possession of a firearm but was acquitted of accessory to murder.

Ernst, 47, said he regretted his actions on the night of 1 to 2 June, although he changed his version of events three times in the process, from directly implicating Markus H. to claiming he acted alone.

Lübcke presided over the district council in Kassel and was a defender of Merkel’s migrant policy during the 2015 refugee crisis.

Merkel’s open border policy saw Germany take in around a million refugees, many coming from war zones in Iraq and Syria. The policy sent cracks running through the CDU.

In a public act, Lübcke once said that those who oppose the right to asylum and humanitarian aid in Germany could leave the country. He later received death threats from opponents. EFE-EPA


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