German jailed for foiled Jehovahs slaughter

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A German court sentenced an 83-year-old man to 11 years behind bars Tuesday for the attempted mass murder of a group of Jehovah's Witnesses in July.

Masked and armed with a machine gun, knife and samurai sword, Horst Albrecht stormed into a meeting of the Jehovah's Witnesses intending to kill as many of the congregation as possible, the court in Bielefeld, central Germany, said.

His weapon jammed, allowing some of the worshippers to overpower him and force him to the ground until police showed up to arrest him.

"He was convicted of 39 counts of attempted murder because he had 39 bullets with him," court spokesman Guiskard Eisenberg told AFP.

"It seems he did not load the weapon properly," Eisenberg said, adding that wearing "thick builders' gloves" may have contributed to Albrecht's failure to carry out his plans.

According to prosecutors, the man wanted to take revenge on the Jehovah's Witnesses whom he blamed for a decades-long estrangement between himself and his daughter, who had joined the organisation.

Albrecht told the court he did not intend to kill anyone.

"He said he wanted to make the group aware they were under threat from Islamic terrorists and he brought the gun as proof," said Eisenberg.

The court had dismissed this story as "like an excerpt from a novel".

Handing down the sentence, the presiding judge said Albrecht had "turned a nightmare into reality" for the 81 people in the congregation.

Albrecht's lawyer said he would appeal the verdict.

© 2010 AFP

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