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TERRORISM

Jihadist given life sentence for Hamburg supermarket knife rampage

A Palestinian jihadist who killed one man and wounded six other people in a German supermarket knife rampage last year was sentenced on Thursday to life in prison.

Jihadist given life sentence for Hamburg supermarket knife rampage
Ahmad Alhaw. Photo: DPA

Ahmad Alhaw, 27, had admitted to the murder and assaults in the river port city of Hamburg.

In delivering the sentence, the judge noted the “particular severity” of the crime, lowering Alhaw's chances of obtaining early release on parole.

Prosecutors had said the attack stemmed from a “radical Islamist” motive, charging that the man had hoped “he would die as a martyr”.

His aim was to kill as many German Christians as possible to avenge the suffering of Muslims worldwide, they said.

There was no indication he belonged to the so-called Islamic State group or any other extremist organisation.

The defendant entered a supermarket on July 28th last year, snatched a 20-centimetre (eight-inch) knife from the shelves, unwrapped it and fatally stabbed a 50-year-old man.

As panic broke out, he slashed and stabbed at others inside and then outside the shop, shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest), and also wounding a 50-year-old woman and four men.

“I saw him run toward me, covered in blood. He was radiating bloodlust,” a 20-year-old supermarket worker who locked himself in a backroom recounted in court.

Outside the supermarket, seven mostly migrant bystanders confronted the screaming attacker, hurling rocks and chairs at him and then subduing him until police arrived.

The men – among them a 30-year-old man of Turkish descent who was wounded in the struggle – have since been celebrated and honoured for their courage.

One of them, Afghan asylum seeker Toufiq Arab, told Bild daily: “I'm not a hero, I only did my duty.”

'God's will'

The Islamist attack was Germany's first since December 2016 when Tunisian Anis Amri ploughed a stolen truck through a Berlin Christmas market in an attack that claimed 12 lives.

The knife rampage led to charges that security services had been too complacent in keeping an eye on Alhaw despite multiple warnings that he was radicalising.

It also fuelled growing xenophobia against Muslim migrants after the mass influx of more than one million asylum seekers since mid-2015.

Witnesses told the court they had seen the failed asylum seeker self-radicalise in the lead-up to the attack.

Like Amri, Alhaw was due to have been deported after his asylum application was rejected, but the process was held up by a wait for identity documents.

Having been rejected for asylum in Norway, Sweden and Spain, he had arrived in Germany in 2015 and was moved to a Hamburg migrant accommodation centre, which after the attack was raided by heavily armed police.

A psychiatrist said Alhaw had told him he was initially drawn to the West because of its open lifestyle.

At first he studied the German language, socialised and at times drank

alcohol and smoked marijuana, said witnesses.

But Alhaw, who had watched IS propaganda videos online, grew deeply religious and increasingly distrustful of state authorities.

By 2016 he thought that he suddenly understood the Koran completely, rejected all previous temptations, and started looking at all other people as either true believers or non-believers, the psychiatrist said.

Alhaw said the knife attack had not been his decision but God's will.

But he surprised the court in a February 19 hearing when he appeared with his beard shaved off and for the first time showed remorse.

“Unfortunately I can't turn back time,” he told the victims and the relatives of the man he killed. “All I can do is to ask you for forgiveness.”

CRIME

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim’s x-ray

A Paris court on Wednesday convicted a surgeon for trying to sell an X-Ray image of a wounded arm of a woman who survived the 2015 terror attacks in the French capital.

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim's x-ray

Found guilty of violating medical secrecy, renowned orthopaedic surgeon Emmanuel Masmejean must pay the victim €5,000 or face two months in jail, judges ordered.

Masmejean, who works at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in western Paris, posted the image of a young woman’s forearm penetrated by a Kalashnikov bullet on marketplace Opensea in late 2021.

The site allows its roughly 20 million users to trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – certificates of ownership of an artwork that are stored on a “blockchain” similar to the technology used to secure cryptocurrencies.

In the file’s description, the surgeon wrote that the young woman he had operated on had “lost her boyfriend in the attack” on the Bataclan concert hall, the focus of the November 2015 gun and bomb assault in which jihadists killed 130 people.

The X-Ray image never sold for the asking price of $2,776, and was removed from Opensea after being revealed by investigative website Mediapart in January.

Masmejean claimed at a September court hearing that he had been carrying out an “experiment” by putting a “striking and historic medical image” online – while acknowledging that it had been “idiocy, a mistake, a blunder”.

The court did not find him guilty of two further charges of abuse of personal data and illegally revealing harmful personal information.

Nor was he barred from practicing as prosecutors had urged, with the lead judge saying it would be “disproportionate and inappropriate” to inflict such a “social death” on the doctor.

The victim’s lawyer Elodie Abraham complained of a “politically correct” judgement.

“It doesn’t bother anyone that there’s been such a flagrant breach of medical secrecy. It’s not a good message for doctors,” Abraham said.

Neither Masmejean, who has been suspended from his hospital job, nor the victim were present for Wednesday’s ruling.

The surgeon may yet face professional consequences after appearing before the French medical association in September, his lawyer Ivan Terel said.

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