Caption 1: The courtroom, empty in this picture, was at full capacity for the reading of the verdict.
The courtroom was fuller than on previous days, but the defendant’s mother, who had been present at the three previous court dates, was noticeably absent. Instead, the defendant’s biological father and several other previously unseen family members were present. Fabian D., clad in his dark suit from the first day of the trial, wore a white shirt, his blond hair in a mess.
The judge entered the courtroom and swiftly announced his verdict. The court found the accused guilty and sentenced him to two years of imprisonment. He will be subject to a “supervision of conduct”, and his weapons, tools, knives, laptop and smartphone were confiscated. The police officer who arrested him on February 5, 2020, described him as “stoically calm” at the time of his arrest. Today too, Fabian D. remained stoically calm.
Path of radicalisation
The judge explained the reasoning for the sentence: Fabian D. joined the hateful, far-right group Feuerkrieg Division in the spring of 2019. His statements in the chat and his procurement of weapon parts and equipment revealed his increasing radicalisation. The State Protection Chamber of the Regional Court of Nuremberg-Fürth remained unconvinced by the defence’s claim Fabian D. purchased the weapon parts with the aim of joining a rifle club. Apparently, when Witness K., a colleague of Fabian D., explained to him in a personal conversation the requirements one must meet to join such a club, the defendant lost interesting in joining the club.
Instead, the defendant intensely set upon learning how to construct a weapon and what parts one needed. The judge described the antisemitic and far-right Halle attack on October 9, 2019, as a blueprint for Fabian D. The attack was both a model and a disappointment for the defendant. The defendant expressed his contempt for the attacker and made fun of, in his opinion, his mistakes. Although the Halle attacker wanted to become a “Saint”, in the eyes of Fabian D., he failed. Apparently, the defendant sought to learn from his mistakes and asked other chat members in January of 2020 for concrete suggestions on “places of worship”. The judge understood this as meeting the criminal requirements of preparing an attack and emphasised that such an attack would have led to a loss of trust in state institutions and security authorities.
The defendant’s mental illness led him to take refuge in these chats and in right-wing extremism, but even then, the defendant remained fully culpable, the judge declared. He agreed with the assessment of the psychiatric expert that Fabian D. is a danger to public welfare and could commit further crimes.
Parallels to the Halle attack
During the trial, it became apparent that Fabian D. was a very lonely and depressed person, removed from his social and family environment. His reserved and introverted nature was met with indifference among peers and family. Instead, he was socially excluded in his family, at school and at work. Yet this does not justify his deeply hateful and violent statements, as circulated by members of Feuerkrieg Division made in their chats. Even though Fabian D. sneered at the Halle attacker, he also showed admiration for the “Saint”, viewing him as an example. According to the psychiatric assessment, the defence attorney’s desire to acquit Fabian D. would not only be grossly negligent, but a sign that the state would not be prepared to defend itself face with an attack on our pluralistic, democratic society. Clear biographical parallels exist between Fabian D., stopped during the planning process for his attack, and the Halle attacker, currently on trial in Magdeburg for killing two people in Halle and injuring several more, some life-threateningly. One can only hope that the urgently needed intervention of the justice system will lead to Fabian D.’s de-radicalisation.
Translated by W.F. Thomas