A German-Russian man suspected of detonating three bombs targeting the Borussia Dortmund soccer team bus in a plan to profit from a plunging share price appeared in a German court on Thursday charged with 28 counts of attempted murder
The team was heading to the club’s stadium for a Champions League match against AS Monaco on April 11 when the explosions went off, wounding Spanish defender Marc Bartra and delaying the match by a day.
Letters left at the scene had initially suggested Islamist militants were behind the bomb attack, but prosecutors later said the 28-year old suspect, a dual German and Russian national identified as Sergei V., was motivated by greed.
The attack near the Signal Iduna Park stadium, the largest in Germany, holding more than 80,000 fans, nonetheless revived memories at the time of the November 2015 attacks in Paris that targeted entertainment venues including the Stade de France where France were playing Germany in a soccer friendly.
The start of the trial also comes only days after the anniversary of a deadly truck attack at a Berlin Christmas market, which killed 12 people and put the issue of security at the heart of political debate in Germany.
Sergei V., who was led into a courtroom at the Dortmund regional court in handcuffs on Thursday, may face a life sentence in prison if he is found guilty. No plea was entered.
In addition to the attempted murder charges, he is accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm and of causing an explosion.
Prosecutors have said that he bought about 44,000 euros (£39,083.51) worth of options on the day of the attack entitling him to sell shares in Borussia Dortmund at a pre-determined price.
“His goal was allegedly to push the price of the shares down through the attack and earn a high profit of around 500,000 euros through the options,” a spokesman for the regional court in Dortmund said.
But shares in BVB rose after the attack and are up 16 percent so far this year.
Defence lawyer Carl Heydenreich declined to comment on the allegations against his client on Thursday, saying the matter was complicated by what he said was a “smear campaign” ahead of the trial.
The Dortmund court has set trial dates through March for now.
(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Angus MacSwan)