12/05/2007 01:00 PM

German Sentenced in Mügeln Mob Attack

Man to Serve 8 Months for 'Racial Incitement'

A 23 year-old man was sentenced Tuesday to eight months in prison for his involvement in a mob attack on eight Indian men in an eastern German town last August. The conviction comes amidst an unsettling increase in attacks on foreigners in Germany.

Frank Dietrich, 23, shielded is face when he appeared in German court on Tuesday.

Frank Dietrich, 23, shielded is face when he appeared in German court on Tuesday.

A 23 year-old German man was sentenced Tuesday to eight months in prison for leading a racially motivated attack on eight Indian men in August.

Frank Dietrich confessed to participating in an attack on a group of Indian men in the small eastern German town of Mügeln and was found guilty of racial incitement by a district court in Saxony, a state in the former East Germany.

"I have nothing against foreigners," said Dietrich, "I work with whoever I encounter."

Dietrich is the third of four suspects to be convicted for involvement in the Mügeln attack but the first to receive a prison sentence. The others were convicted of shouting racial slurs such as "Germany is for the Germans" and "Foreigners Out" and received fines of €600 ($883) and €1,500 ($2199).

The mob attacks followed a late night street festival in August. In court on Tuesday, one of the eight victims, a 35 year-old Indian man, testified that he and his companions were in a dancehall tent on the festival grounds when one of them was shoved by a German, sparking a confrontation. After a scuffle on the festival grounds, the Indians fled and a mob of between 30 and 50 Germans chased them. The Indian men took refuge in a pizzeria.

Seventy police officers were needed to disperse the mob, and two of the Indian men were hospitalized for injuries they sustained during the attack.

In addition to Dietrich's conviction on a count of racial incitement, the court also found him guilty of damaging property for trying to kick down the pizzeria door.

The Mügeln incident was the first in a new wave of violent, racially motivated attacks on immigrants in depressed regions of the former East Germany. The attacks have drawn global attention to problems with xenophobia in Germany. Indeed, Mügeln made the headlines everywhere from India to America.

Last weekend there were two separate racist attacks in Magdeburg, a city in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt. In the first, a pregnant Iraqi woman was hospitalized after she was among five Iraqis dragged from a city bus and beaten by a group of Germans. In the second incident, a racially charged verbal confrontation between four Africans and three men believed to be German, escalated into a fight in which two of the Africans were injured.

Then on Tuesday, police in Magdeburg detained a 33 year-old German man who allegedly pounded on the door of his Nigerian neighbor and shouted racial epithets at her.

The number of victims of racial violence in Germany has jumped by over 25 percent this year, according to a report of the Interior Ministry. The problem is worst in the former East Germany, where unemployment is roughly twice as high as in the former West.



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