COTTBUS, Germany - A German court convicted eight youths of manslaughter Monday in the death of an Algerian who was fatally injured while fleeing a group of neo-Nazis. Only three received jail terms, prompting outrage from the victim's family.
Three men received 2-3 year sentences, while five received probation. Three other youths were convicted of causing bodily harm and were either given warnings or probation. The men were age 18 to 21.
Police said the youths chased Omar Ben Noui, 28, and two friends by car through the eastern German town of Guben at night following a dispute at a disco on Feb. 13, 1999.
They shouted racist invectives out the windows, then tried to block the men's way. Terrified, Noui broke through a glass door at a housing project, severing an artery. He bled to death in the building's vestibule.
Family members of Noui in the courtroom wept after the ruling was read. ''They are horrified by the lenient judgment,'' Noui's attorney Undine Weyers said.
Prosecutors had sought sentences of up to 3 years for the youths, who were not jailed during the trial.
The Cottbus state court sentenced Daniel Rauscher, 20, to three years in prison and Denny Tarnick, 20, to two years and eight months. Alexander Bode, 21, drew a two-year term. The men received jail terms while the others probation because they were charged with additional racist attacks.
Presiding Judge Joachim Doenitz said the group was motivated by ''hate of foreigners,'' but that they got violent only because of disputes with immigrants earlier that day.
Coming amid a surge of far-right violence, the trial of 11 young men in this city near the Polish border was criticized for its slowness and apparent lack of deterrent value.
Attorneys for the defendants, who grinned and joked in court, delayed the proceedings with a flood of motions. Several defendants sported shaved heads and jackboots in court Monday.
Only one defendant confessed to the charges and he later was beat up in a disco. During the trial, others allegedly tried to destroy a memorial for Noui put up in Guben. Still another beat up an immigrant and in a separate ruling was sentenced to pay $220 to charity.
Parliament President Wolfgang Thierse had called the trial's 17-month-duration scandalous and said the defendants could hardly feel punished if ''they go back home every evening and, in effect, celebrate their return as a victory.''
In contrast, a court in the eastern city of Halle in August handed down tough sentences to three skinheads charged in the beating death of a Mozambican immigrant. A 24-year-old was sentenced to life, and his two 16-year-old co-defendants were each given nine years.