All parties appeal verdict in German far-right killing case

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Walter Luebcke's widow Irmgard Braun-Luebcke, left and her sons Jan-Hendrick Luebcke and Christoph Luebcke in the courtroom for the continuation of the trial in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, July 2, 2020. A far-right extremist in Germany was convicted Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a regional politician who had advocated helping refugees a brazen killing that shocked the country. Prosecutors, defendants and co-plaintiffs have lodged appeals against the verdict. (Ronald Wittek/Pool Photo via AP)

BERLIN – The prosecutors, defendants and co-plaintiffs have said they will appeal against the verdicts issued over the 2019 killing of a politician that sparked outrage in Germany and an attack on an asylum-seeker three years earlier, court officials said Thursday.

Stephan Ernst, a 47-year-old German with a long history of neo-Nazi views, was convicted last month of murdering Walter Luebcke, a regional politician and member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's party who had advocated helping refugees.

Ernst was sentenced to life in prison without the customary eligibility of release after 15 years, due to the severity of his crimes. But he was acquitted of the separate charges of stabbing and seriously wounding an Iraqi refugee in 2016, with the court citing a lack of "sustainable evidence.”

The Iraqi, identified only as Ahmed I. due to privacy rules, was a co-plaintiff in the case and wants Germany's highest court to reconsider the acquittal.

Luebcke's family, meanwhile, is appealing the Frankfurt court's decision to acquit an alleged accomplice who prosecutors alleged was with Ernst at the scene of the crime. Attorneys for Markus H. argued he wasn’t involved in the shooting and the court only found him guilty of the lesser charge of weapons violations, sentencing him to 18 months' probation.

Federal prosecutors and the two defendants also appealed the verdicts, said Gundula Fehns-Boeer, a spokeswoman for the Frankfurt regional court.

The appeals will likely be considered by Germany's highest court later this year.