ICE knife attack: Process start: Federal prosecutor speaks of "radical Islamist conviction"

The passengers in the ICE 928 from Passau in the direction of Nuremberg suspected nothing bad.

ICE knife attack: Process start: Federal prosecutor speaks of "radical Islamist conviction"

The passengers in the ICE 928 from Passau in the direction of Nuremberg suspected nothing bad. Suddenly, a young man gets up, pulls out a knife, blade length 8.5 centimeters, and randomly stabs travelers. He rams the knife into his first victim's head, neck and chest eight times - the man survives, ultimately only due to a happy coincidence. The attacker also brutally attacked three other men with a knife, some of whom were seriously injured. Shortly after the bloody crime, the ICE makes an unscheduled stop, police officers search the train and arrest the man.

Almost a year after the knife attack on November 6, 2021, the trial against the alleged perpetrator began on Friday before the Munich Higher Regional Court. The federal prosecutor accuses the accused Abdalrahman A., an "ethnic Palestinian" who grew up in Syria, of attempted murder and dangerous bodily harm - the latter also because of an attack on a nurse in the Regensburg district hospital.

At the reading of the indictment, federal prosecutor Silke Ritzert said the accused had "radical Islamist convictions." With the indiscriminate killing of non-Muslims, he wanted to make a contribution to global jihad - he wanted to put this into practice with the knife attack in the ICE.

From the point of view of the defense, however, a central question is whether the man is really a jihadist - and how his mental state at the time of the crime should be assessed. In the end, it will depend on whether the accused has to go to prison or be placed in a psychiatric ward if convicted.

In fact - and this becomes clear on the first day of the hearing - there are several psychiatric opinions that partially contradict each other in terms of content. Four psychiatric experts therefore appeared at the start of the trial on Friday. The defendant himself initially did not comment on the allegations.

After the knife attack, Abdalrahman A. is said to have initially stated that he was ill and needed help. At the time, a first expert saw signs of paranoid schizophrenia in the young man, who was therefore initially placed in a district hospital. Later, investigators found files and videos at A.’s that called for attacks to be committed, for example. In the end, the Federal Public Prosecutor took over the investigation – at a time when A. had not been in the district hospital for several months, but in custody in the Straubing prison.

A. made contradictory statements during the course of the investigation - the recordings will be played in the trial on Friday: At the first appointment before the district judge, he said: No, he was fine. Later, when the arrest warrant was issued, he argued that he had committed the act on the train because he was of unsound mind. The interpreter translated that he "lost his mind" on the ICE that day.

Most recently, A. received strong medication again in the Straubing prison, including haloperidol, which is used in particular to treat schizophrenia. Even before the indictment is read out, he complains of tiredness and has to be examined - but the experts declare him fit to stand trial.

At the end of the first day of the trial, A. finally had his defense attorney Maximilian Bär officially request that the medication be discontinued - and that he be transferred from the psychiatric ward in Straubing back to a "normal" ward. Although Bär himself says afterwards: "From my point of view, my client is still ill." A paranoid schizophrenia is "unchanged in the room".

The federal prosecutor's office, on the other hand, assumes that A. only wanted to fake his alleged incapacity. So a simulant? At the beginning of the process, there are many unanswered questions.

One thing is clear: some of the victims of the attack are still suffering from the consequences to this day. Apart from their serious and potentially life-threatening external injuries, some of them had to be treated psychologically and some had to be hospitalized in a psychiatric ward.

The knife attack had shaken up the country at the time - especially since a similar, deadly attack was less than six months ago: In June 2021, a Somali killed three women with a knife in downtown Würzburg. According to an expert report, this perpetrator was paranoid schizophrenic and acted delusional. The district court of Würzburg therefore finally sentenced him to placement in a psychiatric ward.

For the trial in Munich, the Higher Regional Court has initially scheduled 24 days of hearings until December 23, 2022. Police officers and investigators, work colleagues and members of the man's family are to be heard - and the various experts.

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