The trial of a man accused of fatally stabbing a pregnant Egyptian woman in a courtroom this summer in an anti-Islamic attack has opened in Dresden.
The Marwa El-Sherbiny murder trial opened on Monday in a court in the eastern German city of Dresden.
Alex Wiens, a 28-year-old Russian-born ethnic German, faces charges of murder, attempted murder, and physical assault, after fatally stabbing 31-year-old Marwa El-Sherbiny and seriously wounding her husband during his defamation hearing in July, in which she had testified against him.
Wiens entered the court with a mask, sunglasses, and hood on Monday. He was fined for contempt of court because he refused at first to remove the items concealing his face.
Wiens appeared behind bulletproof glass; German media have reported Internet death threats against him. Some 200 security officers were present at the trial.
In a wrenching testimony, the victim’s husband Elwy Okaz recalled how his wife was stabbed to death on July 1 in the same courtroom. Okaz said Wiens plunged an 18-centimetre (seven-inch) kitchen knife repeatedly into the veiled Sherbiny, who at the time was three months pregnant with their second child.
When Okaz tried to come to his wife's aid, he too was stabbed several times and spent two days in a coma.
Sherbiny first encountered Weins in August 2008, when she asked him to clear a playground swing so that her young son Mustafa could use it. He refused and yelled racist abuse at her.
She filed defamation charges and he was fined 780 euros (1,165 dollars). An appeal of the conviction brought them together again in July, when she was killed.
Senior prosecutor Frank Heinrich said in introductory remarks on Monday that Wiens attacked the two “out of sheer hate of non-Europeans and Muslims”.
The trial has sparked a heated debate in Germany about anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.
The Egyptian government demanded on Sunday a life sentence for Wiens, the maximum punishment under German law, and which prosecutors say they plan to pursue.
Date created : 2009-10-26