A 23-year-old German Muslim on trial for attacking a rabbi told a Frankfurt court Thursday that he had felt threatened and acted in self-defense.
Sajed Aziz told the court on the first day of his trial that he and Zalman Gurevitch, 43, first had a testy verbal exchange on a street in the city in September. Then the orthodox Jewish rabbi grabbed him by the collar of his jacket and screamed at him, Aziz testified.
He said he reacted by pulling a knife and stabbing at the rabbi, but insisted he could not recall what had happened next. Aziz testified he later looked at the knife, but did not see any blood on it.
Prosecutors have said the rabbi — who suffered stab wounds from the incident — told authorities at the time of the attack that his assailant said, "I'll kill you, you (expletive) Jew," then pulled out a knife with a 7.6-centimeter (3-inch) blade and stabbed him in the stomach.
A German citizen born of Afghan parents, Aziz is charged with attempted manslaughter, dangerous bodily harm and invasion of privacy. He has denied that the attack had an anti-Semitic motive or that he intended to kill the rabbi.
The young man apologized to Gurevitch at the opening of the trial.
Aziz, who told the court that on the day of the attack he had woken up at noon and then smoked several joints to improve his mood, has been held in custody since his arrest due to his criminal record, which includes another case of causing bodily harm.
The attack prompted concern and condemnation from local politicians and Jewish groups.
A verdict in the trial is expected on May 17.