German who set fire to asylum seekers home gets 'suspended sentence'
LUEBECK, GermanyMay 11, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
May 11, 2015 12:00 am
A German man who admitted to committing an arson attack on a building intended to house asylum seekers was given a suspended sentence of two years on Monday.
The 39-year-old told the court in Luebeck that he had set fire to the unoccupied building in a small town outside Hamburg on February 9 to protect his family from the six Iraqi men that were supposed to take up residence there a day later.
The defendant had apologized for his crime during the trial but presiding judge Helga Lukowicz said in her ruling that the court had not found it convincing.
"He never said one word about being sorry for the refugees," she said. "He's only sorry for himself."
The court went beyond the one-and-a-half year suspended sentence requested by prosecution lawyers, who called the crime a racist attack during the trial.
Defence lawyers had argued for leniency in the sentencing, saying that the arson had not been planned in advance and that it was only a spur-of-the-moment act.
In her ruling, Lukowicz said the judges "did not believe" he had set the fire spontaneously. The defendant, who works for the local tax office, said authorities had failed to properly notify neighbours of the new refugee home. The building was rendered unusable after the fire.
Germany has seen a rise in arson attacks on asylum seekers' homes. There were 175 racially motivated attacks in Germany in 2014, compared to 58 the year before.