Halle synagogue attacker sentenced to life in prison

Halle synagogue attacker sentenced to life in prison

Following a trial that lasted nearly five months, a German court has sentenced the man behind the 2019 Halle synagogue attack to life in prison, the maximum sentence allowed in Germany. 

Halle attacker handed down maximum sentence

A far-right extremist who killed two people during an antisemitic terrorist attack in the east German city of Halle last year has been handed down a maximum sentence, for what the prosecutor called “one of the most repulsive antisemitic acts since World War II.” 

28-year-old Stephan Balliet was found guilty of two murders and more than 60 counts of attempted murder on Monday. As well as a life sentence, the court also handed down an acknowledgement of the gravity of the crime, which effectively rules out the possibility of an early release after 15 years in prison. 

Announcing the verdict, Judge Ursula Mertens noted the severity of the crimes and pointed out that Balliet had repeatedly tried to relavitise his “cowardly” motives during the trial, speaking only to repeat his “absurd ideology”. “You are a danger to humanity,” she said, describing the defendant as a loner who still lived in his childhood bedroom, building weapons and soaking up “crude conspiracy theories” on the internet

During the trial, Balliet made no attempt to defend his actions, instead smiling as he repeatedly denied the Holocaust in open court - a crime in Germany - parroted racist and misogynist conspiracy theories and referred to his would-be victims as “my enemies.” When the judge concluded her statement, the defendant suddenly threw a file of papers at the co-plaintiffs - 45 survivors of the attack - before being dragged out of the courtroom by three guards. 

Defendent went on antisemitic rampage in October 2019

On October 9, 2019, Balliet attempted to force his way into Halle’s synagogue, where 51 people were observing Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. He failed only because his homemade weapons and explosives couldn’t penetrate the synagogue’s locked door. 

In frustration, he then shot dead two other people. 40-year-old Jana L. was walking past the synagogue when Balliet shot her in the back; 20-year-old Kevin S. was eating his lunch at a nearby kebab shop. The defendant then fired shots at several police officers and other passersby before making his getaway. He was detained 90 minutes later, about 40 kilometres outside the city.  



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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