Halle, Germany (dpa) – The Jewish community in the eastern German city of Halle reacted with horror on Thursday to an attempt by a right-wing extremist accused of deadly terrorist attack on a synagogue to escape from prison.
“It’s incredible that he almost made it. I’m at a loss for words,” Halle Jewish community chairman Max Privorozki told dpa.
Authorities said the 28-year-old suspect, identified only as Stephan B under Germany’s privacy laws, climbed over a 3.4-metre-high fence while exercising in the prison yard in central Halle on Saturday.
The suspect had moved around the prison unobserved for about five minutes before he was reportedly noticed by prison staff.
Privorozki said it was hard to imagine what could have happened if the suspect had succeeded in escaping and stressed that he expected the incident would “not happen again.”
A spokesperson for the Justice Ministry confirmed the man had tried to escape. Sources told dpa he has been transferred to a high security prison in Burg near Magdeburg.
Germany was rocked by the attempted massacre at Halle’s synagogue October 9, 2019, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
Stephan B drove to the synagogue armed with eight firearms and several explosive devices, according to his indictment. He fired at a wooden door and threw explosives, but was unable to enter.
He then shot dead a 40-year-old woman in the street and a 20-year-old man in a nearby kebab restaurant, prosecutors said. He has been charged with double murder and attempted murder of 68 people. His trial opens on July 21.