Prosecutors seek long sentences for German skinhead attack

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HALLE, Germany (AP) - Urging a tough response to protect Germany against resurgent neo-Nazis, prosecutors sought severe sentences Thursday for three skinheads charged with beating and kicking an African man to death.

''This case shows with special clarity how dramatic the situation is,'' the Federal Prosecutor's Office said in a statement after its final arguments in the closed murder trial. ''The assailants attacked not only the victim but the basic values of our society, and wanted to send a signal.''

The federal prosecutors demanded a life sentence for Enrico Hilprecht, 24, and 10-year juvenile terms for Christian Richter and Frank Miethbauer, both 16. Court officials say all three admitted attacking 39-year-old Mozambican Alberto Adriano in a park in the eastern city of Dessau on June 11, but they denied intending to kill him.

The two teen-agers - one wearing a Hitler-style mustache - showed no sign of remorse. The third defendant, Hilprecht, has expressed regret and offered to send money to the victim's family if he works in prison, an idea angrily rejected by Adriano's widow.

''The assailants did not view Alberto Adriano as a human being,'' the prosecutors' statement said. ''Rather, they beat him to death because he was a black African.''

Testimony by a court-appointed psychiatrist made plain that the attackers were fully responsible for their actions even through they had been drinking heavily, the statement said.

Defense arguments were scheduled for Friday, with the verdict set for Wednesday. The trial is closed because it involves juveniles.

Federal prosecutors took over the case to show that Germany is serious about combating extreme-right attacks that have claimed at least three lives in the formerly communist east this year.

In this case, authorities say the three drunken skinheads stopped Adriano as he was walking home at about 1:45 a.m., shouted racist abuse, then beat and kicked him in the head repeatedly. He died three days later, leaving behind a wife and three young sons.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and others have repeatedly urged citizens and civic leaders in recent weeks to stand up against extremism.

In one such move, a German bank said Thursday it was closing all accounts held by extreme-right parties and organizations. Postbank, which had to open an account for anyone who wanted one before its operating guidelines were changed in 1995, said this was a ''necessary contribution to political expediency and the strengthening of democracy in Germany.''

Elsewhere, five northern German states announced the creation of hot lines where people can report skinhead attacks and neo-Nazi content on the Internet. And in the northern German town of Neumuenster, a club known as an extreme-right hangout faces legal steps to close it down after a national lawmaker from the Greens party launched a petition to do so.


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