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By Martin Schlicht
DRESDEN, Germany (Reuters) - A man who stabbed a pregnant Egyptian woman to death in a German courtroom, provoking outrage in the Muslim world, was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday.
Alex Wiens, 28, was convicted of murdering Marwa El-Sherbiny by stabbing her 16 times with a knife in front of her husband and three-year old son, in a case which shocked Germany and sparked protests in Egypt and Iran. Media in Islamic countries described her as a "veiled martyr."
"This shows that violence, racial hatred and intolerance have no place in Germany," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.
Wiens, a German of Russian origin, was also convicted of attempted murder for stabbing Sherbiny's husband, Elwy Okaz, who tried to defend her.
Okaz was then shot in the leg by a guard who mistook him for the attacker. He appeared at the court on Wednesday on crutches, having earlier in the trial testified about having seen his wife bleed to death in front of his eyes.
The killing took place in a court where Wiens was appealing a conviction for insulting Sherbiny by calling her an "Islamist," "terrorist" and "slut" when she asked him to make room for her son to play on swings in a playground.
Security was exceptionally high for the trial, with 200 police officers securing the court in the same eastern city of Dresden where the July attack occurred. The killing took place in a different courthouse.
The defendant sat behind bulletproof glass for the trial, with his feet shackled, and hid his face under a hood and sunglasses. Wiens, who admitted holding anti-Islamic and xenophobic views, did not seem to react to the verdict.
In a statement read out by one of his lawyers during the trial, Wiens said he was hostile to foreigners but that was not the motive for the attack. Instead, it was his "fear of the trial," and of being sent to jail.
State prosecutor Christian Avenarius said, however, that Wiens continued to insult Sherbiny, even after he had murdered her, and showed no contrition throughout the trial.
"It was a dignified end to one of the most bitter trials we have ever had here," Avenarius said. "But he never showed any regret for what he did."
Germany has the second-largest Muslim population in western Europe after France and some groups criticised the German government for taking several days to condemn the murder.
(Additional reporting by Keith Weir; Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Reuters