Munich Subway Assault: Immigrants Get Long Sentences For Attacking German Pensioner
Two youths with foreign backgrounds who assaulted a German pensioner in the Munich subway last December have been handed stiff prison sentences. The case sparked a nationwide debate about immigration and youth crime.
Defendants Spyridon L. (2nd from the left) and Serkan A. (3rd from left) received stiff jail sentences for their assault on a pensioner.
Judge Reinhold Baier at the Munich district court said they had acted "brutally and without mercy" in beating up pensioner Hubertus N., who had angered them by asking them not to smoke in the Munich subway train, where smoking is forbidden.
Their assault was caught on surveillance cameras and played on German TV news channels, prompting Hesse state governor Roland Koch to call for a crackdown on "criminal young foreigners" in what political rivals said was an attempt to boost his flagging campaign for re-election.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, like Koch a Christian Democrat, backed his tough line, while immigrant groups warned that the focus on foreign criminals reflected latent xenophobia at the heart of German society.
The two attackers had confessed to having caused life-threatening injuries to the pensioner by punching him and kicking him in the head. They apologized to him during the trial but he rejected the apology as insincere. "They played football with my head," he said. He suffered serious head injuries and bleeding in his brain, but has made a recovery.
The sentences were in line with what the state prosecution had demanded.
Their lawyers said they would appeal against the sentences which they said were designed to set an example and assure the public that the Munich subway was safe.
The German of the German Police Union, Rainer Wendt, said in a statement: "The state has rightly given a tough response with this verdict. The brutal assault by these two young men alarmed our society and led to a broad debate about how to deal with youth crime."
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