World

German court convicts asylum seeker in killing that led to widespread protests

A German court has convicted a Syrian asylum-seeker over a fatal stabbing in the city of Chemnitz last year that touched off far-right protests.

Syrian national Alaa S. found guilty in 2018 fatal stabbing of Daniel Hillig, 35, in Chemnitz

The defendant is shown from behind in the courtroom in Dresden. It was not clear if he would be immediately deported after serving the sentence for manslaughter. (Matthias Rietschel/AFP/Getty Images)

A German court on Thursday convicted a Syrian man over a fatal stabbing in the city of Chemnitz last year that touched off far-right protests.

Judges convicted asylum-seeker Alaa S. of manslaughter and dangerous bodily harm in the killing last August of 35-year-old Daniel Hillig.

The 24-year-old defendant, whose last name wasn't released in line with German privacy laws, was sentenced to nine years and six months in prison, slightly less than the 10-year-sentence prosecutors had demanded.

German news agency DPA reported that the defendant had remained silent throughout much of the trial. He spoke only on the last day to say he hoped for a fair verdict.

Defence lawyers had called for their client to be acquitted, citing lack of evidence. After the verdict they announced plans to appeal and accused the court of allowing itself to be swayed by the political debate over the case.

Hillig, a father and a carpenter by trade, was killed at a street festival in Chemnitz on Aug. 26, 2018.

Following the killing, thousands of neo-Nazis, members of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and others assembled in Chemnitz to protest against migration.

The protests in turn led to political fallout days later, as Chancellor Angela Merkel reassigned her intelligence chief. Hans Georg-Maassen had downplayed the far-right protests and backlash and was also criticized for alleged improper contacts with the AfD.

Chemnitz Mayor Barbara Ludwig had said ahead of the trial, which was held in nearby Dresden for security reasons, that she hoped the defendant would be convicted.

An Iraqi suspect in the case is still being sought on an international arrest warrant.

With files from CBC News