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Austrian gets life for murdering step-daughter

An Austrian man has been sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany for the murder of his 22-year-old step-daughter, whom he sexually abused for years.

Austrian gets life for murdering step-daughter
Günther O. in court. Photo: APA/dpa

A jury in Essen found Günther O. guilty of first degree murder, meaning he will not be eligible for release for at least 15 years.

Günther O., who is originally from the Austrian province of Carinthia, fathered a child with his step-daughter Madeleine, and is believed to have started sexually abusing her when she was only 14 years old.

He is the father of her three-year-old child, although family friends were told Madeleine became pregnant after a one night stand.

She managed to escape from him in August 2012 and reported him to the police. They started an investigation but underestimated how dangerous he was.

In February 2014 Günther O. used his son Daniel (22) to help lure Madeleine to his allotment. There he hit her on the head, choked her to death and then covered her body in concrete and buried it.  Police discovered her body on February 18th.

They later found a text message on Günther’s phone which read: "You will eventually be below the earth. I will trample on the earth and say, Madeleine, you are quiet now!"

His son, Daniel, was sentenced to four years in prison as an accessory to murder.

The judge said that Günther "is a psychopath who considered Madeleine to be his property" and disposed of her body as if it was "garden waste”. 

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CRIME

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

Following the suicide of an Austrian doctor who received threats from Covid-19 anti-vaccination activists, the government has now launched a new campaign to help victims of online abuse.

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

The Austrian medical community was left in shock in July when Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a local doctor in Seewalchen am Attersee in Upper Austria, took her own life following months of online abuse.

Kellermayr, 36, had been targeted by anti-vaccination activists and Covid-19 conspiracy theorists for her out-spoken support of vaccines, and the abuse even included death threats. 

Her death prompted candlelight vigils and demonstrations in Vienna and the tragic story was picked up by news outlets around the world.

READ MORE: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

This led to calls for tighter laws against online bullying and the ability for perpetrators to be prosecuted in other EU countries – particularly as at least two of the people who are believed to have targeted Kellermayr are based in Germany, according to the Guardian.

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has even called for the creation of a special public prosecutor’s office to deal with “hate-on-the-net”, but this has been rejected by prosecutors and other political parties, as reported by ORF.

Instead, the Federal Justice Department has launched a new information campaign, website and hotline to help people dealing with online abuse.

FOR MEMBERS: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

What is in the new campaign?

Austria’s Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) said they have launched the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to inform victims about the support available.

Zadic said: “It is important to me that those affected know that they are not alone in this situation and that the judiciary supports them with free psychological and legal process support.”

“You don’t have to cope alone with the extraordinary burdens that criminal proceedings can entail, for example through confrontation with the perpetrators.”

READ ALSO: Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Part of the support package is the new website Hilfe bei Gewalt (Help with Violence), which details how to access help from the authorities, as well as secure free legal advice and representation from a lawyer.

The website states the service is for victims of bullying and/or hate online, defamation, stalking, terrorism, incitement, sexual violence and robbery.

The service is designed to be anonymous with options to contact the Justice Department by phone or via a chat box. The website also lists contact details for regional support services in all provinces across Austria. 

The free (kostenlos) hotline for Hilfe bei Gewalt is 0800 112 112.

Useful links

Hilfe bei Gewalt

Austrian Federal Justice Department

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