The political assassination in June 2019 by a neo-Nazi is receiving scant attention in America.
The cold blooded murder of Walter Lübcke shocked Germany. Now his accused assassin has confessed to the crime. The trial of Stephan E. is expected to last until October.
German criminal trials do not have a jury. Trials are held before a panel of Judges as shown above.
Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 8.5.2020
The main suspect in the killing of regional German politician Walter Lübcke has confessed and apologized in court.
A far-right extremist who is suspected of murdering regional politician Walter Lübcke confessed in court on Wednesday.
“I shot him,” the defendant said in his hourlong statement, which was read out by his lawyer at the start of the proceedings in Frankfurt.
Stephan E., 46, is on trial for the shooting of Lübcke, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Lübcke was shot in the head on his porch on June 1, 2019 and died later that night.
Read more: Germany and right-wing extremism — The new dimension of terrorism
Stephan E.’s statement went on to describe his own act as cowardly and cruel. “I am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry,” were the words directed at Lübcke’s relatives. “No one should have to die because of his religion or his opinions or his origin and background.”
This apology failed to impress Lübcke’s widow and two sons, who are participating in the trial as co-plaintiffs.
Prosecutors said Stephan E.’s motivations were based on his “right-wing extremist hatred of refugees.”
Lübcke became a target for militant far-right extremists in 2015. At the time, Germany saw a major increase in the number of migrants coming into the country, and the 65-year-old politician attracted attention as an advocate of efforts to welcome and integrate them.
The statement read by the defense attorney on Wednesday was the defendant’s third confession. Previously, Stephan E. had confessed twice — each time with a different version of last year’s crime.
This time, even though the defendant’s words were short and clear, they were somewhat surprising. They included a mixture of his first statement to the police, in which no mention is made of his co-defendant Markus H, and a later, modified version in which he blamed H. for the shooting.
In Wednesday’s statement, Stephan E. still heavily incriminated his former friend and co-defendant Markus H., but he now admitted to having fired the shots himself.
Stephan E. described what led up to that fateful night last June when Lübcke was shot on the terrace of his house in Wolfhagen-Istha, near Kassel, a city he represented as district president.
Walter Lubcke’s funeral – 2019
His words made the listeners shiver, describing as they did the quiet but rapid radicalization of a young man. The driving force behind this, according to Stephan E., was Markus H.
“He radicalized, manipulated and incited me,” E. said in his statement. “And I let it happen to me.”
According to the statement, H. procured weapons and joined E. in shooting practice in a forest. “He always spoke of civil war-like conditions that would soon prevail in Germany … how Western life in Germany must be defended against Islamization,” E. said of his former friend.
Stephan E., who describes himself as a prepper and was preparing for a “civil war,” said he still does not see himself as a neo-Nazi. He said he became caught up in the narrative put forward by H., who had spoken “over and over again” of the way that the “Merkel government” wanted to take away the freedom of its citizens and wipe them out.
The statement alleged that at some point during the shooting exercises in the forest, H. stuck a portrait of Angela Merkel on the target, as well as a picture of Lübcke. H. is said to have portrayed the district president as a “traitor to the people” and a “stooge of Jewish interests.”
He is also said to have described Lübcke as someone “who, unlike Merkel, could be approached,” which, according to E., made him an easy target for the two accused.
On the evening of the crime, the statement said, Stephan E. met H. around 9.30 p.m., carrying a weapon in his pocket that H. had given him previously. The plan was to wait for Lübcke and confront him. At about 10:30 p.m. they allegedly arrived at the Lübcke family’s house, where the two of them saw a person on the terrace and the glowing light of a smartphone.
Read more: Killing of Kassel politicians leaves locals aghast
E. described what followed in short sentences in his statement: “You threaten him with a gun; I’ll beat him up, and tell him something about leaving the country,” H. allegedly told him.
The use of a gun “was definitely an option,” the statement said, which claimed that H. had also told E. that he should shoot if Lübcke moved. On the terrace, E. pointed his gun at the seated Lübcke “from close range,” telling him “Don’t move” as the district president was getting up. He said he had pushed Lübcke back into his chair.
E. said that when the politician moved again, he pulled the trigger and told H. he believed Lübcke had been hit in the head, before the two fled the scene.