FRANKFURT (Reuters) – A suspected far-right sympathiser went on trial in Frankfurt on Tuesday for shooting dead a pro-immigration politician last year in a case that raised questions about whether Germany is doing enough to tackle right-wing radicalism.
Walter Luebcke, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, was found dead in a pool of blood outside his house in the western state of Hesse in June 2019. He had been shot in the head at close range.
The defendant, identified only as Stephan E. to conform with German privacy laws, is charged with the homicide of Luebcke in Hesse by shooting him on the night of June 1-2 2019, the court said.
A second defendant, Markus H., is charged with aiding and abetting the killing.
“Both defendants are charged with having committed these crimes based on extreme right-wing political convictions,” the court said.
Luebcke was a figure of hate for the far-right because of his outspoken support for Merkel’s open-doors migrant policy.
Stephan E. initially confessed to shooting Luebcke dead but later changed his statement. Earlier this year he said he and Markus H. had gone to the house with a gun intending to threaten Luebcke but the gun went off while his friend was holding it.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has warned that the biggest threat facing Germany comes from the right and fears have mounted since February when a racist attack in Hanau left 11 people dead.
In 2018 Beate Zschaepe, a member of a neo-Nazi gang, was jailed for life for her part in the murders of 10 people during a campaign of racially motivated violence.
(Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Giles Elgood)