Widower describes fatal hate-crime attack on wife

2009-10-27 00:00

DRESDEN — The widower of pregnant Egyptian Marwa al-Shirbini described to a court here yesterday the rapid sequence of events in which his wife was stabbed to death in the same building earlier this year.

Elwi Ali Okaz described events clearly, addressing the court in Arabic on the first afternoon of the trial. The 32-year-old was also stabbed and critically wounded in the attack.

The man known as Alex W (28) a German of Russian origin, is accused of the racially motivated murder, which took place at an appeal against a fine he had been ordered to pay for verbally abusing Al-Shirbini in 2008.

The killing, on July 1, provoked angry reactions in Egypt and a death threat against the defendant.

The couple had been about to leave the courtroom with their three-year-old son when Alex W attacked them, Okaz said. At first his wife was hit and pushed, he said, adding that he was also hit when he tried to protect her.

Olaz said he only noticed the knife after the defendant had stabbed them several times.

At that moment, Olaz said, people stormed the room and shots were fired. Shortly after, he lost consciousness.

It turned out that a policeman had accidentally shot Olaz in the leg, having mistaken him for the perpetrator.

The murder trial started yesterday morning, amidst heightened security and intense media interest.

Alex W did not communicate with the court as he sat with his back to the room, his head covered with a hood and sunglasses.

Senior prosecutor Frank Heinrich told the court that Alex W attacked al-Shirbini (31) and her husband, “in order to kill them,” and had stabbed the couple “with great vehemence.”

The courtroom setting made it even harder for the couple to escape the unexpected attack, the prosecutor added.    “[Alex W] knowingly exploited the circumstances to extinguish the lives of the couple out of pure hatred towards non-Europeans and Muslims, whom he doesn’t grant the right to live,” Heinrich said.

The unemployed 28-year-old has been charged with murder, attempted murder and causing aggravated bodily harm. He faces life imprisonment if convicted.

The initial hearing had come after Alex W appealed a $480 fine he was ordered to pay for verbally abusing al- Shirbini at a children’s playground in August 2008.

He had called al-Shirbini a “terrorist” after she asked him to stop sitting on a child’s swing so her son could use it, witnesses told police. Al-Shirbini was wearing a headscarf at the time.

Al-Shirbini’s widower told the court that his wife had not initiated the proceedings against Alex W. Since she had called the police after the playground incident, it is likely that this triggered the investigation.

The trial is expected to last 11 days.



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