A German neo-Nazi who drove into a group of leftists, leaving one with a brain injury, has been acquitted of attempted manslaughter. The judge found he was acting in self-defence.
The incident happened last October at a neo-Nazi event in Riegel am Rande in the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg. Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Friday. The judge ruled that he had acted in self-defence while trying to escape, and that the prosecution had failed to prove that he was deliberately trying to harm anyone.
The 29-year-old accused was sitting in his car in a car park when he was approached by a group of left-wing extremists, who had their faces covered. The neo-Nazi reacted by starting the ignition and driving into them at speed, hitting a 22-year-old.
The young man suffered a severe head injury and haemorrhaging, and continues to suffer from a speech impediment and motor dysfunctions.
But a Freiburg court acquitted the neo-Nazi of all charges, the
"Justice is not biased," the judge said in her closing statements, adding that the trial had not been about political views, but whether a crime had been committed. She argued that the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" also applied to neo-Nazis.
The state is now obliged to pay damages to the neo-Nazi for taking away his driving license following the incident.
A court press statement said that the left-wing activists could easily have got out of the car's way, and that although the accused could have taken another route to avoid a collision, the judge could not rule out that he had panicked and not noticed this alternative.
The court also disregarded the prosecution's evidence that the accused had posted a message on Facebook shortly before the incident, saying that he would love to be in a situation where he could "get" a leftist.