By Helge Toben and Friederike Heine, dpa
Published: 08 December 2016 Thursday, 06:52 AM
Bonn, Dec 07 (deutschenews24.de/dpa) -- Three teenagers went on trial in Germany on Wednesday on suspicion of carrying out a bomb attack at a Sikh temple in the western German city of Essen in which three people were injured.
Yusuf T, Mohamed B and Tolga I - whose full names are being withheld in line with German privacy laws - are facing charges of: attempted murder; causing serious bodily harm; causing an explosion; and property damage.
They were 16 years old when they allegedly committed the crimes.
On April 16, Yusuf T and Mohamed B were caught on a surveillance camera as they deposited a homemade explosive device outside the Sikh temple.
A priest sustained serious burns in the explosion. Two other people were injured by shards of glass.
Prosecutors say the defendants carried out the attack at the temple because they took issue with the treatment of Muslims at the hands of Sikhs in northern India and because they consider members of the Sikh faith to be heretics.
The teenaged defendants have denied any religious motive. In their police statements, they claimed they had chosen their target at random.
At the start of the trial on Wednesday, Yusuf T`s lawyer referred to the bomb attack as a "silly prank."
"Yusuf himself has admitted to detonating the bomb. But we are saying that he did not try to kill people, but that it was a silly prank gone totally awry, which unfortunately caused one person to be seriously injured," he said.
The lawyer for the priest, who is one of the co-plaintiffs in the case, said that his client and the members of the Sikh congregation "cannot to this day understand this terrible crime."
The trial is taking place behind closed doors because the defendants are not of age.