Verdict due in Germany knife killing that sparked racist riots

Berlin, Aug 22 (AFP/APP):A 24-year-old Syrian man is expected to face a court verdict Thursday over a knife killing that sparked far-right street violence and protests in the eastern German city of Chemnitz.
The ruling comes at a sensitive time, one year after thousands of neo-Nazis and enraged citizens marched through Chemnitz, and just over a week ahead of state elections in the ex-communist region.

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which has railed against immigrants and Islam, is forecast to poll strongly in the state of Saxony and neighbouring Brandenburg on September 1.

In the high-profile manslaughter case, in which a verdict is expected after 1200 GMT, prosecutors charge that Alaa Sheikhi, together with an Iraqi man still at large, stabbed to death 35-year-old German Daniel Hillig in the early hours of August 26, 2018.

The Iraqi, a 22-year-old identified only as Farhad A., was first to confront Hillig, a carpenter with German-Cuban roots, according to the prosecution which wants Sheikhi jailed for 10 years.

Both the Arabs then allegedly stabbed Hillig, who died of heart and lung wounds, as well as another man, named as Dimitri M., who was badly injured.

Sheikhi, who arrived in Germany during the 2015 mass migrant influx to Europe, was detained hours after the attack, together with another Iraqi who was later released for lack of evidence.

Defence counsel for Sheikhi argued that the case against him is flawed and based only on questionable, late-night witness testimony rather than fingerprints, DNA or other forensic evidence.

The trial has been held in Saxony’s capital Dresden for security reasons and because of what the court called the “extraordinarily high public interest”.

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