The husband of a pregnant Egyptian woman knifed to death in a German courtroom testified Monday that the alleged attacker continued stabbing his wife even after she was on the ground.
The suspect, 29-year-old Alexander W., arrived for his trial in the same court room Monday with his face concealed beneath a hood, hat, sunglasses and a mask. Only after several urgings by the judge did he remove the mask, hat and hood, but he was fined for contempt of court for keeping the sunglasses on.
He faces charges of murder, attempted murder and dangerous bodily harm for the July slaying of 31-year-old Marwa al-Sherbini. As in all criminal cases in Germany, Alexander W.'s surname will be withheld by the court unless the defendant is convicted.
The attack has outraged Muslims, who dubbed al-Sherbini "the
headscarf martyr" and lambasted it as evidence of Islamophobia in
Members of al-Sherbini family including her husband, Elwy Ali
Okaz, are acting as co-plaintiffs in the trial - meaning they can
review evidence, file motions and question witnesses.
On the trial's opening day, Okaz described the attack, in which
he also was injured trying to protect his wife.
The suspect "still stabbed her when she was already lying on
the floor," Okaz said in Arabic, identifying Alexander W. as the
About 200 police officers secured the Dresden courthouse Monday
amid fears of a potential revenge attack.
Dresden prosecutors have said the defendant was driven by a
"hatred of non-Europeans and Muslims," according to the
indictment. If convicted, Alexander W. could face life in prison.
The trial is scheduled to last until Nov. 11.
Al-Sherbini was killed while giving court evidence in July
against a Russian-born attacker who was convicted of defamation for
having called her a "terrorist" and "Islamist" during an
Prosecutors say Alexander W. smuggled a 7-inch (18-centimeter)
kitchen knife into the courtroom and stabbed al-Sherbini repeatedly
in front of her husband, 3-year-old son and eight courtroom
Okaz was stabbed when he tried to intervene, and was
accidentally shot in the leg by a security guard who mistook him
for the attacker.
The case is being closely monitored in Germany and abroad.
Egyptian Ambassador Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy was attending the trial,
as were representatives of leading Muslim rights groups in Germany.
Ramzy said he expected "a speedy sentence. A just sentence that
is commensurate with a serious crime."
In al-Sherbini's home city of Alexandria, in Egypt, dozens of
supporters, friends and family members gathered for a rally
demanding justice in the German case.
"We will never forget you, Marwa," the crowd shouted.
The protesters held photos of al-Sherbini and small banners in
both Arabic and English calling for "justice ... punishment."