Status: 07.12.2023, 13:11 PM
The defendant sits down in his chair in the courtroom at the beginning of the trial. © Bernd Weißbrod/dpa
It is the sad climax of a bloody confrontation between two groups in the Stuttgart area: A 23-year-old threw a hand grenade at a mourning congregation in June and is now on trial for it. In the end, apparently, only a branch prevented a tragedy.
Stuttgart - It could have ended in a bloodbath, which from the point of view of the public prosecutor's office happened at the beginning of June in the cemetery of the 6000-strong community of Altbach near Stuttgart: A 23-year-old hurls a hand grenade in the direction of a mourning community. At this time, about 50 people are standing in front of the funeral hall, where they have just said goodbye to a young man. The fact that there are not many deaths on this day in early summer is only due to a happy coincidence. The grenade bounces off a branch, lands 30 meters away from the group and explodes there. Nevertheless, at least 15 people are injured, some seriously.
Since Thursday, the alleged grenade thrower has had to answer to the Stuttgart District Court. A verdict is not expected before mid-March. The public prosecutor's office accuses him of attempted murder, the public prosecutor speaks of an insidious and dangerous attack on the mourning community: "He deliberately took advantage of the fact that the mourners were in their thoughts with the deceased."
Then he meticulously lists what the many steel balls, up to three millimeters in size, that the explosion hurls through the air, do to the cemetery: they penetrate the arms, shoulders and thighs of the mourners, one of the bullets tears off a piece of a victim's ear, another is hit in the neck by the splinters. Another bullet gets stuck near a victim's lung. Several mourners have to be operated on, some still suffer from panic attacks and stress disorders.
At the start of the trial, the defendant does not personally comment on the crime, but has his defense attorney make a statement. The accusation is correct, says his lawyer Stefan Holoch - and then immediately apologizes to the 23-year-old: "He wants to apologize through me to all those who have been harmed." His client knew that he had acted wrongly. "Very wrong."
The hand grenade throwing also has massive consequences for the alleged perpetrator. When he tries to flee in a taxi after the throw, several mourners pull him out of the car and brutally beat him. According to the public prosecutor's office, until the first emergency services arrived, they jumped and kicked his head and body, inflicting a severe craniocerebral trauma on the Iranian, and he was in intensive care for several days afterwards. The alleged thugs will be on trial from next week.
In the courtroom, the young man comments on his life's journey, but often claims gaps in his memory. "I don't remember a lot of things," he says. He suffers from headaches and sleep disorders - whether these are a consequence of the traumatic brain injury remains unclear. He told the court about further injuries to his head, a few years ago he fell eight meters into the depths, and the young man also speaks of a tumor.
In 2006, he fled with his family from Iran to Germany. His father had been politically persecuted there and had fled the death penalty. In Germany, the now 23-year-old then attended German courses, completed a secondary school leaving certificate and began various apprenticeships. His asylum application is rejected, and at the time of the alleged crime he is only tolerated.
According to the investigators, the background to the crime is a feud between two rival groups in the Stuttgart area, which has been raging for many months. The defendant belongs to a Kurdish group from the Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen and Göppingen area, says the prosecutor. "At the funeral, he suspected numerous relatives or sympathizers of the hostile group." According to the investigators, this is mainly active around Esslingen.
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The groups have been at war with each other for months, and there are repeated acts of violence in the greater Stuttgart area. People were repeatedly shot at. There were incidents in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Plochingen, Asperg in the district of Ludwigsburg and Eislingen in the district of Göppingen, among others. So far, there have been more than 40 arrests, according to the State Office of Criminal Investigation.
For security reasons, the trial will take place in the strictly secured courtroom of the Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart-Stammheim, on Thursday dozens of emergency vehicles will be parked in front of the courthouse, and visitors will be closely checked at the entrance. It remains calm: members of the hostile groups do not show up. Dpa