A local Cologne politician faced charges on Thursday for shooting and injuring a young man of foreign descent. Prosecutors accuse the politician of acting on xenophobic beliefs.
Hans-Josef B. belonged to Angela Merkel’s center-right Christan Democratic Union (CDU) party and was a councilman for the city’s Porz district.
The 72-year-old faces charges of assault, libel, and for improper use of a firearm.
Cologne’s chief public prosecutor Ulf Willuhn confirmed the charges against the politician to local daily newspaper Express.
The incident took place on the night of December 29,2019, when the councilman heard a lot of noise from a group of young men that were socializing outside, on the street near the riverside of the Porz district.
The suspect allegedly went outside to see what happened, returned home to retrieve his firearm and then went outside and shot the 20-year-old, injuring him in the shoulder.
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Five other firearms were found at the suspect’s house. All of them had been legally obtained, as he was a certified marksman.
Cologne’s chief public prosecutor Ulf Willuhn told Express that xenophobia against the young men, who had foreign roots, was seen as a motive for the crime.
“The public prosecutor’s office assumes that the crime is also due to xenophobic motives,” said Dr. Jan Orth, spokesman for the Cologne Regional Court.
During the encounter, the 72-year-old allegedly used xenophobic swear words against the young men, calling them “dirty foreigners” and other German-language insults used on minorities.
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Hans-Josef B. had to resign from his post as a councilor when news of the event came to light. CDU Secretary-General Paul Ziemiak heavily criticized the disgraced politician and distanced the party from his actions.
A date for a court hearing has not yet been scheduled, the Cologne court said. If convicted of assault, the former politician could spend anywhere from six months to ten years in prison.