German court convicts left-wing extremists for attacking neo-Nazis

Lina E. (C-R) and another defendant (C-L) in the courtroom at the higher regional court in Dresden, eastern Germany, on May 31, 2023. (Jens Schlueter/AFP)
Lina E. (C-R) and another defendant (C-L) in the courtroom at the higher regional court in Dresden, eastern Germany, on May 31, 2023. (Jens Schlueter/AFP)

DRESDEN, Germany — A German court sentences a left-wing extremist woman to more than five years in jail for attacking neo-Nazis and other far-right radicals.

The principal defendant, identified only as Lina E., and three other suspects are convicted for participating in a “criminal organization” that carried out several assaults against right-wing extremists between 2018 and 2020.

In their closing argument, prosecutors had argued that there “is no good political violence” and had sought eight years in prison for Lina E.

The defense had urged the judge to acquit the accused, saying that the prosecution had based its case mainly on the statements of a key witness who was a former member of the group and who is currently in a witness protection program.

Prosecutors said the group planned the attacks intensively, including by spying on their victims.

In one attack in October 2018, the group’s members kicked and beat a right-wing extremist in the eastern town of Wurzen, leaving him with serious injuries.

In October 2019, they carried out an assault on the owner and several customers of a restaurant popular with neo-Nazis in the central town of Eisenach.

The owner and several people accompanying him were also assaulted two months later on the streets.

The four defendants shared a “militant far-left ideology,” said prosecutors.

E. and her partner Johann G. — who is still at large — are believed to be ringleaders of the group.

The trial, which lasted a year and a half, was held under tight security.

Ahead of the verdict, police were bracing for far-left violence as the radical scene has threatened “a million (euros) worth of property damage across the country” for every year of imprisonment handed down by the court.

Far-left activists have also called a demonstration in Leipzig on Saturday.

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