Page last updated at 22:57 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Egypt welcomes German life term

Alexander Wiens appears in a Dresden court for his trial.
Wiens arrived for his trial with his face completely covered

The Egyptian government has welcomed the life imprisonment imposed by a German court on a man who murdered a pregnant Egyptian woman.

Alexander Wiens, a Russian-born German, stabbed Marwa Sherbini with a kitchen knife in July in the same Dresden courthouse where he was sentenced.

Egypt's foreign ministry said the life sentence served as "a warning to those motivated by hate".

Egyptian ambassador to Germany Ramzi Izz al-Din said justice was served.

"Today the sentence is the right sentence, the just sentence.

Yolande Knell
By Yolande Knell, BBC News, Cairo

There were alerts on Egyptian state television as news of the verdict broke.

This trial has been extensively covered in the media and many Egyptian journalists travelled to Dresden.

Members of Marwa Sherbini's family and Egyptian lawyers - including a legal team provided by the Egyptian foreign ministry - were also in court.

The case shocked Egyptians and there was outrage at what was seen as the slow response of the German authorities to deal with claims of Islamophobia and to offer condolences.

"It is the maximum sentence possible under German law and I think that says a lot for the German justice system," the ambassador said.

The Dresden state court also ruled that Wiens, 28, would not be eligible for early release.

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said: "The verdict, the maximum punishment under German law, serves justice and is considered a warning to those motivated by hate."

The killing happened at a court hearing where Wiens was appealing against his conviction for insulting Ms Sherbini on racial and religious grounds.

Wiens admitted stabbing her to death, but argued his action was not premeditated.

The crime sparked outrage across the Muslim world.

Prosecutors at the trial, which took place amid tight security, insisted he was motivated by a "hatred of non-Europeans and Muslims".

Wiens hid his face under a hood and sunglasses during the trial

Prosecutors said Wiens had smuggled in an 18cm (7in) kitchen knife to the appeal hearing.

He stabbed Ms Sherbini at least 16 times with it, and also injured her husband who tried to protect her.

The 31-year-old, who was three months pregnant with her second child, bled to death in front of her husband and their three-year-old son.

Her husband was also accidentally shot in the leg by a security guard who initially believed him to be the attacker.

Wiens was found guilty of attempted murder and causing bodily harm for the attack on the husband.

Many Muslim leaders had accused Germany of Islamophobia following the killing.

After the sentencing, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said: "This shows that violence, racial hatred and intolerance have no place in Germany."

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