The trial of a man who stabbed a pregnant Muslim Doctor to death inside a German courtroom has begun in the city of Dresden.

The defendant, 29-year-old Alex W, had earlier been fined for calling Marwa Sherbini “a terrorist” and “Islamist”.

He smuggled a kitchen knife into an appeal hearing where Ms Sherbini was killed.

The attack in July sparked outrage in the Muslim world, with protests in Egypt, Iran and Turkey.

The defendant is accused of murder, attempted murder and dangerous bodily harm.

He was fined 50 euros ($75; £46) by the judge, Birgit Wiegand, for
refusing to remove his sunglasses although he conceded to lower his
hood.

Tight security

He faced another fine after refusing to confirm his name and place of birth, the AFP news agency reported.

The trial is taking place in the same courtroom as the stabbing and security is tight.

Two hundred police are securing the courthouse and bullet-proof glass has been installed in the courtroom.

Elwy Ali Okaz

Elwy Ali Okaz tried to protect his pregnant wife from her attacker

Anyone attending the hearing has to undergo strict security screenings similar to that in airports.

The defendant has been the subject of internet death threats.

Ms Wiegand told the court that the trial would try to get “to the bottom of the circumstances” surrounding Ms Sherbini’s death.

The case began with an argument in a playground in 2008.

Ms Sherbini, a pharmacist, is said to have asked the defendant to let her child use a playground swing he was sitting on.

He allegedly refused and instead called her abusive names.

Ms Sherbini took the defendant to court and he was fined 780 euros ($1,170; £718) for defamation.

‘Hatred’

But when he returned to court for the appeal on 1 July this year,
prosecutors say he smuggled a seven-inch (18cm) kitchen knife into the
courtroom and stabbed Dr. Sherbini at least 16 times with it.

The 31-year-old, who was three-months pregnant with her second child, bled to death.

Dr. Sherbini’s three-year-old son was with the family in court when she was killed.

Her husband Elwy Ali Okaz was stabbed as he tried to protect his wife.

He was also accidentally shot in the leg by German police who initially believed him to be the attacker.

Mourners at a public funeral service for Marwa Sherbini

A public funeral was held for the pharmacist in Dresden in July

He arrived at court on crutches wearing a badge showing his wife’s face.

Prosecutors
say the defendant – an unemployed Russian-born German national – was
motivated by a “hatred of non-Europeans and Muslims”.

He
reportedly suffers from depression. However, court-appointed
psychiatric experts said they had not found any evidence of diminished
responsibility, the AFP news agency reported.

Newspapers in
Egypt and other Islamic countries have expressed outrage at the case,
asking how the fatal attack could have happened. Ms Sherbini, who wore
a headscarf, has been dubbed “the martyr of the Hijab”.

Muslim leaders accused Germany of Islamophobia and German officials of being far too slow to react to the killing.

The
Egyptian government has hired lawyers for Ms Sherbini’s family and has
called for a life sentence if the defendant is convicted – the maximum
penalty possible.

Axel Koehler, president of the German Central Council of Muslims, said his community expected a “strong conviction”.

“We are looking at this trial with great anticipation because our women and girls are obviously scared”, he said.

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