The far-right extremist who attempted to shoot his way into the synagogue in Halle, Germany on Yom Kippur last year has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of two people outside of the synagogue.
Stephan Balliet, 28, was sentenced Monday by a court in Magdeburg near Berlin and denied the option of an early release after his first 15 years in prison.
The sentence he received is therefore unlimited, pending his death or health-related changes in the conditions of his incarceration. It is the harshest prescribed punishment in the German criminal code, DPA reported.
During the months-long trial, Balliet said he carried out the attack because he believed “Jews were ruining Germany.” In his closing argument earlier this month, Balliet denied the Holocaust several times, ignoring the judge’s warning that doing so was illegal. He also attempted to escape prison.
On Oct. 9, 2019, Balliet showed up at the Halle synagogue with the intent of murdering congregants praying inside, prosecutors say. The heavy front door, which is now being repurposed into a memorial, kept him out.
He proceeded to shoot and kill two at a nearby kebab shop.
Josef Schuster, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, wrote in a statement that the verdict “makes clear that murderous hatred of Jews is met with no tolerance. Up to the end, the attacker showed no remorse, but kept to his hate-filled antisemitic and racist world view.”
The Community Security Trust, which is responsible for keeping British Jewish institutions safe, said: “This was an appalling terrorist attack on a synagogue on Yom Kippur and our thoughts are with the victims of Stephan Balliet’s murderous hate. We are pleased that he has received a life sentence, especially given his lack of remorse. The fact that Balliet failed to gain entry to the synagogue due to the front door being closed is a reminder that good security can sometimes be the difference, literally, between life and death.”
Board of Deputies Marie van der Zyl reacted to the sentencing, saying: “After the murderous rampage we saw in Halle last year, this was absolutely the correct verdict. European states must confront anti-Jewish hatred with every means at their disposal. Our full solidarity with
the Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland & the German Jewish community.”
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