Kosovan on trial in Germany for shooting U.S. airmen

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 31, 2011 5:23 AM
Kosovan on trial in Germany for shooting U.S. airmen

By Jonathan Gould

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A Kosovo Albanian man accused of shooting dead two U.S. airmen and wounding two others at Frankfurt airport in March appeared in a packed German court on Wednesday for the start of his trial.

German federal prosecutors have charged Arid Uka with two counts of murder and three of attempted murder, and say his actions were motivated by radical Islamist beliefs.

Crowds of people queued to enter the court house in the western city of Frankfurt for the trial of the 21-year-old man.

Uka, who was working at the airport's international postal center at the time of the attack, has confessed to firing on the U.S. airmen at point-blank range with a 9mm pistol.

The attack shocked U.S. citizens and even U.S. President Barack Obama expressed outrage.

Prosecutors have said Uka wanted revenge for U.S. operations in Afghanistan. They have described how the gunman walked up to airmen boarding a U.S. Army bus and asked one of them for a cigarette.

After establishing the soldiers were heading to fight in Afghanistan, Uka shot the 25-year-old man in the back of the head, killing him, according to prosecutors.

He then boarded the bus, shouted Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest) and shot dead a 21-year old airman sitting in the driver's seat. He wounded two others and pulled the trigger on a fifth target when his gun jammed, according to prosecutors.

Uka, who will have charges read to him in court, planned the attack after watching an online video that he said depicted American soldiers plundering a Muslim house and raping the family's daughter.

(Reporting By Jonathan Gould and Reuters TV; Writing by Madeline Chambers in Berlin; Editing by Mark Heinrich)