The man can’t see himself doing it. Can’t stand the way his crimes are shown in the courtroom, on video, over and over again, from different perspectives. As he raises the knife, ready to stab, as he walks through the aisles of the Woolworth department store in Würzburg and stabs one woman after the other. As he walks through Würzburg, prances, a huge knife in his hand, his arm raised. The accused can’t stand it. After just a few seconds, Abdirahman J. addressed his defense attorney and asked him not to have to look at it any further. These are videos that presiding judge Thomas Schuster warned viewers about: “Think carefully about whether you want to watch it.”
The spectators have the choice to decide, the accused does not. He has to be there when everyone is shown what he did. His lawyer advises him not to look, but to look down at the table. There he sits, the 33-year-old Somali, his head on the tabletop, his hands on his short hair – as if he wanted to protect himself from his own deeds. “He’s doing very badly,” says defender Hans-Jochen Schrepfer, “if he hears and sees that, he can’t deal with it.”
Three dead, eleven injured
Two experts have attested the stabber from Würzburg paranoid schizophrenia, the man is considered not guilty. Nevertheless, his actions must be traced in this process. He killed three women and injured eleven people, some seriously.
Then comes the woman who was his first target: Stefanie S., 40. She stood unsuspectingly in the household goods department. The perpetrator stabbed her in the neck and neck with full force. The woman immediately fell to the ground. When she stopped moving, Abdirahman J. went on to the next victim. He thought the woman was dead. She survived, but she comes into the courtroom in a wheelchair.
“What do you remember?” the judge asks cautiously. “I know a man asked where the knives were,” she says. Then it’s already collapsed under his stitches. “Then I noticed how the blood just ran out of me.” She was fully conscious. She felt a doctor press her backpack onto her back to stop the bleeding. She was in an induced coma for two days. She hasn’t been able to work since then and had to move into a house with an elevator. Her spinal cord was completely severed at the level of the third and fourth thoracic vertebrae, and partially severed at the level of the second and third cervical vertebrae. A permanent paraplegia below the arms, explains the medical expert.
“I can’t walk anymore”
“How are you today?” asks the judge. The witness looks a little helplessly at her wheelchair. Then she says: “I can’t walk anymore. I need help for everything. I can’t even go to the toilet by myself.” The accused has crossed his arms and is staring straight ahead. Not only can he not avoid being confronted with the videos, but also meeting his victims.
Abdirahman J., 33, apologized on the very first day. His defense attorney read that he was very sorry for the suffering he had caused. Now he has that suffering right in front of his eyes. The public prosecutor accuses him of having carried out a revenge campaign to act out his hatred because he felt “tormented” by the German authorities. The perpetrator came to Germany in 2015.
Then Hossein M., the department store detective, appears. He saw Stephanie S. being attacked. He can still remember that she wore short, black pants, it was warm. He was just in front of the department store when the attack started, ran in and tried to disturb the man with the knife – sort of. Because he himself was unarmed. The detective grabbed cutting boards and glasses, threw them at the perpetrator, also hit him in the arm, and the attacker ran after him outside. Now he sees this man, bound with shackles that only allow him to walk sluggishly. A man with his head bowed.
Hossein M. is after the man, has grabbed a construction site sign to keep him in check, a chair. Then the police came and fired a warning shot. At that moment, the attacker was startled, looked away and hit him on the head with the chair. Then Abdirahman J. dropped the knife from his hand.
“The gentleman who sits here so quietly and acts as if he couldn’t hurt a fly was different back then,” says Hossein M. “Now he sits there and says sorry. But my zest for life has died. I want the gentleman here never see her again, never meet her again on the street.”I understand that,” says the judge.