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Germany convicts left-wing activists for attack on neo-Nazis

A court in eastern Germany has sentenced a 28-year-old woman to five years and three months in prison for taking part in a series of attacks on neo-Nazis and other right-wing sympathisers over a period of two years.

German news agency DPA reported on Wednesday that the Dresden regional court convicted the defendant only identified as Lina E and three other suspects of membership in a criminal organisation and serious bodily harm.

“Opposing right-wing extremists is a respectable motive,” said Judge Hans Schlueter-Staats while issuing his verdict.

But such attacks are still “serious criminal acts”, he said, underlining that the state must retain a “monopoly” on the use of force.

Prosecutors accused the student of “militant extreme-left ideology” and conceiving the idea of attacks on far-right individuals in Leipzig and nearby towns.

Three men, Lennart A, Jannis R and Jonathan M, are alleged to have joined forces with her by the end of 2019. The men were sentenced to between 27 months and 39 months in prison.

A defendant hides his face behind a sheet reading "Free Lina" as he sits the courtroom at the higher regional court in Dresden, eastern Germany, on May 31, 2023

Lina E has been in custody since her arrest on

November 5, 2020. The other suspects have remained free.

Among the attacks, she was accused of helping orchestrate was a 2020 incident, in which about 15 or 20 attackers beat a group of six people returning from a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden.

The event regularly attracts neo-Nazis and other far-right sympathisers.

Prosecutors said that several victims sustained serious injuries after being attacked.

Politically motivated

Defence lawyers had called for their clients to be acquitted, claiming the trial was politically motivated.

In reference to the verdict, Germany’s Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in a statement that “in a democratic constitutional state, there must be no room for vigilante justice”.

Far-left groups have announced plans to protest the verdict, prompting police to establish a large presence in Leipzig in anticipation of possible unrest.