Essen, 7 December 2016. A bomb attack on a Sikh house of prayer in Germany’s Ruhr District has led to a closed-door trial of three youths in Essen. The charges include attempted murder. A Sikh priest [Granthi, not a priest] suffered burns and a fracture.
Essen’s juvenile court was due Wednesday to begin hearing the case against the trio accused by prosecutors of using base motives to target Sikhs as “non-believers” in the context of Islamist ideology.
A court spokesman said the judges had entered the chamber but proceedings were postponed three hours because the transport of one of the detained suspects had been delayed.
A fire extinguisher packed with explosive chemicals was allegedly detonated by two of the accused at the entrance of the Sikh house of prayer on April 16 after a Sikh wedding. The third youth allegedly participated in the planning.
Under German trial rules, proceedings remained non-public because the accused were aged 16 when the crime occurred. Two have since turned 17.
The trial is expected to run until February and span 22 days of hearings.
Prosecutors in their indictment say the three – from locations near Essen – were radicalized via a social-media network last year and targeted the Sikh center for base motives by citing the treatment of Muslims by Sikhs in northern India.
The blast left the priest with burns and an open foot fracture and destroyed the prayer house’s entrance door. Two other men suffered lacerations.
Prosecutors say the chemicals used were purchased via the internet.
Two of the youths are also accused of staging an illegal “experimental explosion” at a skater park in the Ruhr city of Gelsenkirchen on January 2. All three then allegedly staged another blast at the park on January 8.
April’s bombing is among several high-profile attacks in Germany over the past five years that have resulted in people being injured or killed.
In March 2011, a young Kosovan-Albanian shot and killed two US soldiers at Frankfurt/Main airport.
Last July, an 18-year-old German-Iranian shot dead 10 people, including himself, in Munich. Police ruled out any link the “Islamic State” extremist group.
Essen was also the venue Wednesday of the second day of the annual congress of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives at which her Christian Democrats (CDU) were expected to adopt tougher rules on asylum.