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German court convicts 15-year-old of planning extremist attack on Christmas market

BERLIN (AP) — A German court on Friday sentenced a 15-year-old boy to four years in prison for planning an Islamist attack on a Christmas market.

The Cologne regional court said the boy was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and disturbing the public peace by threatening to commit crimes, German news agency dpa reported. The trial was held behind closed doors under juvenile criminal law, and the defendant's name was not published in accordance with German data protection regulations.

The teenager was arrested near Cologne in November. The court found that he had become radicalized last autumn and within a few weeks had agreed with a 16-year-old acquaintance to attack a Christmas market in Leverkusen.

The plan was for the defendant to drive into the market in a rented truck and kill as many visitors as possible while his accomplice filmed the attack, the court explained. According to the verdict, the defendant posted a video in a chat group in which he announced an attack on “infidels” with a symbol of the terrorist militia “Islamic State” visible in the background.

The German legal system does not allow formal pleas, but the court said the 15-year-old had admitted the charges against him.

His alleged accomplice, who is also accused of conspiracy to commit murder, is due to go on trial on July 17 in Neuruppin near Berlin.

The Associated Press