German court hands student 5-year sentence for attacks on neo-Nazis

28-year-old convicted of membership in a criminal organization and serious bodily harm for series of assaults with others over a period of two years

The defendant Lina E. (C-R) and a other defendant (C-L) are seen in the courtroom at the higher regional court in Dresden, eastern Germany, on May 31, 2023. (JENS SCHLUETER / AFP)
The defendant Lina E. (C-R) and a other defendant (C-L) are seen in the courtroom at the higher regional court in Dresden, eastern Germany, on May 31, 2023. (JENS SCHLUETER / AFP)

BERLIN — A court in eastern Germany has sentenced a 28-year-old woman to five years and three months in prison for taking part in a series of attacks on neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists over a period of two years.

German news agency dpa reported Wednesday that the Dresden regional court convicted Lina E., whose surname wasn’t released due to privacy rules, of membership in a criminal organization and serious bodily harm.

Prosecutors accused the student of “militant extreme-left ideology” and conceiving the idea of attacks on far-right individuals in Leipzig and nearby towns. Three men, Lennart A., Jannis R. and Jonathan M., are alleged to have joined up with her by the end of 2019. The men were sentenced to between 27 months and 39 months in prison.

Lina E. has been in custody since her arrest on November 5, 2020. The others have remained free.

Among the attacks Lina E. was accused of helping orchestrate was a 2020 incident in which about 15 or 20 assailants beat a group of six people returning from a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden. The event regularly attracts neo-Nazis and other far-right sympathizers. Prosecutors said several victims sustained serious injuries after being punched, kicked and hit with batons.

Defense lawyers had called for their clients to be acquitted, claiming the trial was politically motivated.

Far-left groups have announced plans to protest the verdict, prompting police to establish a large presence in Leipzig in anticipation of possible unrest. Leipzig authorities have restricted public gatherings in the city at the weekend.

Germany’s top security official said the case showed authorities won’t accept any forms of political violence. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said federal and state police would act decisively if there is far-left violence in the coming weeks.

Demonstrators hold a banner reading ‘If anti-fascism is a crime, then is innocence the worst offence’ as they stand in front of the courthouse of the higher regional court ahead the trial against left-wing extremist Lina E. in Dresden, eastern Germany, on May 31, 2023 (JENS SCHLUETER / AFP)

The far-right Alternative for Germany party, which has come under scrutiny from security services for its ties to extremists, welcomed the verdict. It accused Lina E. and her co-defendants of “terrorist methods” and lamented that the sentences weren’t longer.

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