A German neo-Nazi has been sentenced to life in prison for ambushing and assassinating a pro-immigration politician.
Far-right extremist Stephan Ernst, 47, admitted killing Walter Luebcke outside his house in Hesse in June 2019, leaving him in a pool of blood from a close-range shot to the forehead.
It is believed to be Germany’s first far-right political assassination since World War II, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Ernst’s deadly rage was sparked by seeing Luebcke — a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives — give a 2015 town hall event defending the German government’s decision to allow hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers into the country.
“The defendant gradually channeled his xenophobia toward Dr. Luebcke whom he saw as a ‘traitor of the nation’ because of his attitude toward refugees,” the court heard.
Ernst — a known neo-Nazi already convicted of an attempted bomb attack on an asylum home in 1993 — began tracking Luebcke’s movements, and spent years improving his skill with firearms, AFP said.
Frankfurt state court noted the “particular severity” of the crime, and ruled that he will unlikely be eligible for release after 15 years, as is typical under German law, the dpa news agency reported.
Ernst was cleared of separate charges of stabbing and seriously wounding an Iraqi refugee in 2016. Presiding Judge Thomas Sagebiel said there are circumstances that point to him as the perpetrator, “but no sustainable evidence.”
A co-defendant, Markus Hartmann, was cleared of being an accessory in the killing but found guilty on weapons possession charges and received a suspended sentence of 1.5 years.
Armin Laschet, the leader of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, said the murder was “was not just an abhorrent, inhuman crime against an individual, but an attack on us all.”
“Today’s verdict encourages me and at the same time is a reminder to us all — we will not let our country be destroyed by right-wing terrorists and their intellectual instigators,” Laschet said.
With Post wires