Policeman who shot husband of Dresden ‘veil martyr’ cleared

German investigators have dropped an investigation into a policeman who shot an Egyptian trying to save his pregnant wife being stabbed to death in a Dresden courtroom in July.

Policeman who shot husband of Dresden 'veil martyr' cleared
Photo: DPA

The policeman, who has not been named, shot Elwy Okaz in the leg because he mistakenly believed that Okaz was the attacker, prosecutors said Wednesday.

In fact, Okaz was trying to protect his wife Marwa El-Sherbini, 31, later dubbed the “veil martyr”, from a frenzied knife attack by Russian-born Alex Wiens.

Wiens, now 29, was jailed for life on November 11 for the racially motivated murder as well as the attempted murder of Okaz. The couple’s three-year-old son was also in the courtroom.

The situation “was particularly hard to assess since Elwy Okaz and Alex Wiens were both covered in blood and Elwy Okaz had just managed to grab the handle of the knife with his hand, making it appear as though he was the attacker,” prosecutors said in a statement, before emphasising that it was a “highly dramatic” and “unclear situation.”

“The actual attacker Wiens was holding the blade of the knife, which added to the impression that he was the one being attacked,” prosecutors said.

They added that the policeman, who was not in the Dresden courtroom when the attack began, only had seconds to act after entering the room and that he had warned several times that he was going to shoot.

“It must also be noted that the murderous attack on Marwa El-Sherbini and Elwy Okaz was only stopped by the courageous actions of the policeman and that without his intervention there might have been further attacks on Elwy Okaz and his family,” the statement said.

The killing, as well as the slow reaction of Germany’s politicians and media, sparked outrage in Sherbini’s home country and in the wider Muslim world.

Wiens and Sherbini were in court because Wiens was appealing against an earlier fine for calling the headscarved Sherbini a “terrorist”, an “Islamist” and a “whore” in a playground in August 2008.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.