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Defendant Denies Any Role in Solingen Attack

April 20, 1994

DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) _ One of four young men charged in the worst hate crime since Germany reunited denied any involvement in the crime, saying Wednesday he was with two other defendants when the firebombing occurred.

The 1993 attack killed two young Turkish women and three Turkish girls sleeping at home in Solingen. It set off waves of protest by German Turks and others angered by neo-Nazi attacks on those perceived as foreigners.

The four suspects in the case have given conflicting statements at their trial, which opened last week. Wednesday’s testimony by Christian Buchholz simply added to the confusion.

Buchholz, 21, told the court he was with defendants Felix Koehnen and Markus Gartmann on May 29, the night of the attack, in the apartment of a friend. The apartment was less than a mile from the house where a large Turkish family named Genc was sleeping.

Buchholz testified the three were together at the time of the attack and very drunk. He called his mother from a public telephone to come and pick him up, and he was still with them when she arrived. When they parted the Genc family house was already on fire, he testified.

Buchholz said he was not a xenophobe, and had always found neo-Nazi slogans ″stupid, embarrassing and narrow-minded.″

Judge Wolfgang Steffen read from a diary kept by Buchholz, singling out an entry that said ″you will burn too″ when referring to a dispute the defendant had with a group of foreigners.

″I didn’t think that real people would actually burn,″ Buchholz told the judge. He said the phrase was just an expression.

Last week, Gartmann, 24, expressed remorse for the crime and said all four were guilty. But a day later, 17-year-old Christian Riher, the fourth defendant, said he alone carried out the attack and that the other three had nothing to do with it.

Riher and Koehnen, 16, as juveniles face 10 years in prison if convicted. Garthmann faces life imprisonment, while Buchholz could be sentenced as a juvenile or an adult.

The four are charged with five counts of murder, 14 counts of attempted murder and arson.