Imprisoned German synagogue attacker convicted of hostage-taking in attempted jailbreak

BERLIN (AP) — A German far-right extremist already serving a life sentence following an attempt to attack a synagogue in 2019 was convicted Tuesday of hostage-taking for his actions in a jailbreak attempt.

Stephan Balliet, 32, was sentenced to seven years in prison, German news agency dpa reported. He also was ordered to make payments to several people.

The defendant acknowledged during the trial that he took prison officers in the eastern town of Burg hostage with a homemade weapon in December 2022 in an attempt to escape. Other guards overwhelmed him and the hostages were freed unharmed.

Balliet was sentenced to life in prison in 2020 for his attack the previous year, in which he killed two people.

Armed with multiple firearms and explosives, Balliet attacked the synagogue in Halle on Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day. After failing to break down the synagogue’s door, he killed a passer-by and a man inside a nearby fast-food restaurant.

The antisemitic attack, which Balliet broadcast live on the internet, caused shock in Germany.

In the hostage-taking case, the Stendal state court moved the proceedings to the larger city of Magdeburg, which has a high-security courtroom.