Trial of Frankfurt shooting suspect set Aug. 31

A 21-year-old Kosovo Albanian charged with the fatal shooting of two U.S. airmen outside Frankfurt airport will go on trial at the end of this month, a German court said Friday.

Arid Uka's trial will open Aug. 31, the Frankfurt state court said, adding that it has ordered the suspect to remain in custody.

The trial is expected to take up to 10 court sessions, with testimony expected from airmen who were injured in the attack and from psychiatric experts among others, the court said. It said a verdict is likely early next year.

Uka, who grew up in Germany, was charged last month with two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder in connection with the March 2 attack. If convicted, he faces a possible life sentence.

Authorities have said Uka confessed shortly after his capture to wanting to kill American troops because of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. However, no pleas are entered in Germany, meaning when the trial begins the prosecutors will still have to lay out the facts for the court.

According to the indictment, Uka was radicalized over time by jihadist propaganda he saw on the Internet, and the night before the act had watched a video that purported to show American atrocities in Afghanistan; it was actually a clip from a Hollywood film.

The investigation turned up no connections with any terrorist organization.

The attack happened after Uka spotted two U.S. servicemen who had just arrived on an afternoon flight and followed them to where a U.S. Air Force bus was waiting to pick them up, according to the indictment.

Uka approached one of the men for a cigarette as a pretext to get closer, prosecutors say, and when one of them said they were on their way to Afghanistan, he pulled out a pistol.

He first shot unarmed Senior Airman Nicholas J. Alden, a 25-year-old from South Carolina, in the back of the head, the indictment alleged. He then boarded the vehicle shouting "Allahu Akbar" — Arabic for "God is great" — and shot and killed the driver, 21-year-old Airman 1st Class Zachary R. Cuddeback of Virginia, before firing at others on board.

He wounded two others — both of whom recovered though one lost sight in one eye permanently — before his gun jammed and he fled, prosecutors said.