German 'Veil martyr' killer may get life

11th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

Prosecutors are seeking life imprisonment for Alex Wiens, 28, who stabbed Marwa al-Sherbini more than 16 times with an 18-centimetre (seven-inch) kitchen knife in what they call a racist assault.

Berlin -- A Russian-born German man who has admitted killing a pregnant Egyptian woman in a frenzied court knife attack was to learn his fate Wednesday in a case that has sparked outrage in the Muslim world.

Prosecutors are seeking life imprisonment for Alex Wiens, 28, who stabbed Marwa al-Sherbini more than 16 times with an 18-centimetre (seven-inch) kitchen knife in what they call a racist assault.

Wiens has confessed to killing the headscarved Sherbini -- dubbed the "veil martyr" in Arab media -- in the same courthouse where he stood trial, but denied he was driven by Islamophobia.

"It is true that I am hostile to foreigners but that was not the motive," Wiens said in a statement read by one of his lawyers on November 4.

Prosecutors in the eastern city of Dresden, however, said he was motivated "by a pronounced hatred of non-Europeans and Muslims."

Wiens is also accused of the attempted murder of Sherbini's husband, Elwy Okaz, who suffered multiple stab wounds when he went to the aid of his wife, three months pregnant at the time with their second child.

In the ensuing confusion, Okaz, 32, was also shot in the leg by a guard who apparently mistook him for the attacker.

On crutches, unsure if he will ever walk unaided again, Okaz told Wiens' trial in October that his son Mustafa, then aged three-and-a-half, watched his mother bleed to death.

Mustafa, who now lives in Egypt with family, "misses his mother," he said. "He is suffering too."

Psychiatric experts have determined that Wiens, suffering from depression and suicidal according to his mother, had no diminished responsibility due to mental illness, potentially paving the way for the stiffest sentence.

The muted reaction of German officials and media prompted furious protests in the Muslim world, especially in Sherbini's native Egypt and Iran.

In Tehran, Islamic students pelted the German embassy with eggs, chanted "Death to Germany, Death to Europe" and daubed "Angie the Nazi" on walls, referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In Egypt, thousands of people marched in Sherbini's home city of Alexandria, protests were held accusing the West of Islamophobia and top clerics branded Wiens a "terrorist."

Iran's ultra-conservative Kayhan newspaper called on Muslims to carry out the "revolutionary death penalty" against Wiens, who has appeared in court behind bulletproof glass.

The trial has taken place under tight security with armed police guarding the courthouse.

Wiens and Sherbini met in August 2008 in a playground when she asked him to let her son play on a swing he was sitting on.

He responded with a torrent of racist abuse, calling her an "Islamist," a "terrorist" and a "whore."

She pressed charges for defamation and he was fined 780 euros (1,160 dollars).

After Sherbini had testified at an appeal in July 2009 and left the witness stand, he pulled a knife he had smuggled into the courtroom and stabbed her.

During his trial, Wiens was prone to outbursts including stamping his feet and banging his head on the table in court.

AFP/Expatica

0 Comments To This Article