Nearly 18 years after a bombing at a German commuter rail station targeting Jewish immigrants, the alleged neo-Nazi accused of the crime went on trial Thursday.
Ralf Spies, 51, is facing 12 counts of attempted murder and a charge of causing an explosion for the attack in the western city of Duesseldorf on the afternoon of July 27, 2000.
Spies was known to police as a right-wing extremist at the time and ran a military surplus store near the scene of the crime, which shocked Germany and drew international condemnation.
Investigators say the former soldier has a swastika and a well-known Nazi fortress tattooed on his body.
“The accused is believed to have exploited the defencelessness of the victims and acted out of racist motives,” chief prosecutor Ralf Herrenbrueck told reporters outside the courtroom.
Ten eastern European migrants – six of them Jews from the former Soviet Union – were injured in the bombing.
All the victims were on their way back from a German language course when the explosive, hung in a plastic bag on a fence near the Wehrhahn station entrance, went off, sparking panic.
A 26-year-old Ukrainian pregnant woman lost her unborn child and had to undergo emergency surgery after the blast ripped off one of her feet.
Her 28-year-old husband suffered wounds over his entire body from metal fragments unleashed in the explosion and was in a critical condition for several days.