German Top Court Overturns Acquittals of Sharia Police Vigilante Gang

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Germany’s Federal Court of Justice has overturned the acquittals of members of a vigilante Sharia Police patrol, and on Thursday sent the case back to a Lower District Court for retrial.

The court in the western city of Wuppertal made an error in its assessment of whether wearing a safety vest bearing the words “Sharia Police’’ violated Germany’s uniform ban, the federal court ruled.

In November 2016, the Wuppertal court acquitted all seven defendants of either violating the uniform ban or aiding others in doing so.

In response, state prosecutors lodged an appeal.

Members of the Sharia Police group, founded in 2014, patrolled the streets of Wuppertal in orange vests in an effort to enforce sharia regarding alcohol consumption and gambling among adherents of Islam.

The lower court had ruled that the men had not violated the ban because their vests did not count as a uniform and they did not have an intimidating effect one eyewitness at the time thought the men were part of a stag party group.

Germany bans the wearing of uniforms that are overtly militant or intimidating, and expressed shared political beliefs in public.

The case stirred international and domestic outrage at the time.

(dpa/NAN)

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