Germany. High Court upholds life sentence for neo-Nazi in politician’s murder | News | DW

Germany’s Federal Court of Justice (BGH) on Thursday upheld the life sentence handed down last year against Stephan Ernst, the neo-Nazi who murdered politician Walter Lübcke in 2019.

The court also confirmed that co-defendant Markus H. was not guilty of participating in the murder.

Ernst was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2021 by a court in Frankfurt for Lübcke’s murder.

“All appeals were unsuccessful,” said court president Jürgen Schäfer, adding that the verdicts of the judges in the Frankfurt trial where Ernst was convicted were “without gaps”.

The murder of Walter Lübcke

On June 1, 2019, Lübcke was shot in the head while standing on the terrace of his house.

He was the head of the local government of Kassel, in the Land of Hesse, in central Germany.

Lübcke, a member of the center-right Christian Democrats, had strongly defended the city’s open approach to accepting refugees, an attitude that would have angered Ernst.

It was the first assassination of a lawmaker by a right-wing extremist in Germany’s post-war history.

Lübcke has advocated a welcoming attitude towards refugees, angering far-right members

What questions has the Court of Justice been faced with?

The victim’s family and state prosecutors had filed a complaint that co-defendant in the Frankfurt trial, Markus H., had been found not guilty of complicity in the murder, having received only a sentence with reprieve for weapons offences.

They say H., 46, practiced target shooting with Ernst and supported him in his drive to lead the attack on Lübcke. Lübcke’s family is even convinced that H. actively participated in the murder.

 Lübcke's widow, Irmgard Braun-Lübcke, and her sons Christoph and Jan-Hendrick

Lübcke’s widow, Irmgard Braun-Lübcke, and his sons Christoph and Jan-Hendrick attended the hearing

During the first trial in Frankfurt, Ernst himself had repeatedly changed his testimony concerning H., sometimes accusing him of having been at the scene of the crime and even of possessing the weapon.

State prosecutors are also seeking Ernst’s conviction for a stabbing attack on an Iraqi asylum seeker in 2016. The victim joined the appeal. The Frankfurt court dismissed the charges against Ernst in this case.

That decision was also upheld in Thursday’s decision.

Ernst himself had also appealed his murder conviction, asking that it be turned into a lesser felony of manslaughter.

In addition, his lawyers had appealed against the preventive detention that Ernst might face upon his release from prison.

* DW has refrained from publishing certain surnames due to German privacy laws.

tj/rt (AFP, dpa)

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