2019 German synagogue attacker gets life sentence

A gunman who carried out an attack at a synagogue in the German city of Halle last year killing two people, has been sentenced to life imprisonment followed by preventive detention.

The sentence, by the Higher Regional Court of Naumburg on Monday, effectively rules out Stephan Balliet’s early release after 15 years in prison, reports Xinhua news agency.

The trial of the right-wing extremist ended with the maximum penalty possible under German law.

The judges found the 28-year-old Balliet guilty of two counts of murder and more than 60 counts of attempted murder.

The court also determined the “particular gravity” of his guilt.

On October 9, 2019, Balliet tried to kill more than 50 people who were observing Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, in the Halle synagogue.

However, he failed to get into the building.

He then murdered a 40-year-old passer-by in front of the synagogue and a 20-year-old in a nearby kebab shop.

During his escape, Balliet also shot at German police officers and pedestrians until police forces were able to arrest him.

Judge Ursula Mertens described the incident as a “cowardly attack” and a “heinous, inhumane act”.

According to the German Press Agency (dpa), Balliet reacted to the verdict without emotion.

The decision to determine the “particular gravity” of his guilt meant that it was “not possible to expect the remaining sentence to be suspended after a term of imprisonment of 15 years”, according to the court.