The trial of a man accused of beating a Christian migrant convert may come to an end because of a dispute over his age.
An Afghan migrant is currently on trial in a German court where he is accused of brutally beating an Iranian migrant who had recently converted to Christianity. The perpetrator of the attack, who is himself Muslim, was said to have beaten the 24-year-old Iranian so badly that he faces charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault.
The defence has now cast doubt on the alleged age of the attacker at the time, and the judge may be forced to call for a mis-trial on the basis of him being under the age of criminal responsibility, Die Welt reports.
The crime took place at a migrant centre in Hamburg in October of last year and saw the Afghan beat the recently converted Iranian with a telescopic baton while he yelled “Allahu Akbar”.
The prosecution maintains that the attacker was 22 years old at the time of the attack and should be prosecuted as an adult. They also claimed that the attack was motivated by religious hatred as the Afghani had, just two days prior to the attack, publicly denounced the convert as an infidel and an apostate.
According to Sharia law, the penalty for leaving the Islamic faith, or apostasy, is death.
The accusations were confirmed by the victim who gave testimony before the court and mentioned that along with calling him an infidel the attacker had threatened to kill him. The Iranian man was so traumatised by the experience it is said that he has left Germany entirely to return to Iran where there is a possibility under Iranian Islamic law that he could be prosecuted for his conversion.
The trial will likely be reopened in a court for minors where the charges may be re-examined and the punishments likely much lighter than they would be in the case of an adult trial. The Afghan who is charged with the crime still maintains not only that religion had nothing to do with the assault, but that he had not assaulted the Iranian who was left with severe injuries.
Attacks on Christians and Christian converts in German migrant centres has grown since the assault happened in October. Christian charity Open Doors released a report last month that claimed up to 40,000 Christians were being actively persecuted in Germany and did a study in a Berlin migrant centre that revealed widespread threats and violence toward Christians.
While migrants have been converting from Islam to Christianity in large numbers, many of the converts fear retaliatory violence. One convert in the Austrian capital of Vienna claimed his conversion may be a “death sentence,” but insisted his faith was more important to him than fears of retaliation from Muslims.