Unrepentant neo-Nazi gunman Stephan Balliet was jailed for carrying out a terrorist attack on a synagogue after admitting he was motivated by anti-Semitism.
Balliet live-streamed the shooting on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, in Halle in eastern Germany in 2019.
Presiding judge Ursula Mertens described the attack, which killed two people, as cowardly when she announced the verdict on Monday.
Prosecutors said he aimed to kill as many of the 50 worshippers inside the synagogue as possible during the 30-minute rampage.
Only his poor aim, the unreliability of his homemade firearms and a bolted door prevented a massacre, the intended victims said. Judges at the Naumburg state court, which met in the state capital of Magdeburg for security and capacity reasons, found him “seriously culpable”.
Balliet, 28, posted an online screed against Jews before trying to shoot his way into the synagogue on October 9 last year.
During his five-month trial, Balliet denied the Holocaust in open court – a crime in Germany – and expressed no remorse to those he targeted. He was convicted of two counts of murder and several counts of attempted murder in a case that shocked the country and fuelled fears of rising right-wing extremism.
Josef Schuster, head of Germany's Central Council of Jews, welcomed the sentence. "This is an important day for Germany. The verdict makes clear that there will be no tolerance for homicidal hatred of Jews," he said.
Government spokesman Ulrike Demmer said the Halle attack "showed us how important it is to even more decisively continue the fight against anti-Semitism, xenophobia and hostility to democracy".
Prosecutor Kai Lohse said during the trial that Balliet had acted on the basis of a "racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic ideology" to carry out an attack against not only those he killed but "Jewish life in Germany as a whole".
Far-right extremists are the biggest threat to Germany, the head of the country’s domestic intelligence agency, Thomas Haldenwang, said in July
An elite unit in Germany’s Special Commando Forces was formally disbanded this year after some of its members were found to hold extreme far-right views.