Far-right extremist convicted of murdering German politician

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Main defendant Stephan Ernst looks on in the courtroom at the higher regional court in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. The German court has convicted the 47-year-old far-right extremist Stephan Ernst of the murder of Walter Luebcke, a regional politician, in a brazen killing that shocked the country, and sentenced to life in prison. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Pool Photo via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — A far-right extremist in Germany was convicted Thursday and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a regional politician in a brazen killing that shocked the country.

In its verdict against 47-year-old Stephan Ernst, the Frankfurt state court noted the “particular severity” of the crime, meaning that he will likely not be eligible for release after 15 years as is typical under German law, the dpa news agency reported.

During his trial, Ernst admitted to the June 1, 2019 slaying of Walter Luebcke, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party who led the regional administration in the Kassel area of central Germany.

Luebcke was targeted because he had been outspoken in favor of helping refugees. Prosecutors said Ernst had attended a 2015 town hall event where the politician had defended the German government’s decision to allow hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers into the country.

Ernst shot Luebcke on the politician’s porch and he died hours later.

The German government warned after Luebcke killing and other attacks that year that far-right extremism posed a significant security threat in the country.

An accomplice, who prosecutors alleged was with Ernst at the scene of the crime, identified only as Markus H. due to German privacy laws, was convicted of weapons violations and sentenced to 18 months probation.

H. had been charged with accessory to murder, but his attorney argued he was not involved and he was only found guilty of the lesser charge.

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March 18 2021 03:00 pm