Bank employees on trial for grisly murder
Two former bank employees are on trial in Graz for murdering and dismembering one of the bank’s customers - a 54-year-old Styrian millionaire - after he discovered they had stolen €80,000 from his accounts.
Testimony from the two defendants kicked off the trial on Monday - with both men giving very different versions of events.
On Tuesday the court heard testimony from the wife of the 24-year-old defendant, Ferhat K., who said that she had noticed that her husband had contacted his 30-year-old co-defendant (Halil I.) several times on the days leading up to the murder and that he was often out in the evenings.
When she had asked him what was going on, he told her he was "involved in a matter which he couldn’t extricate himself from very easily” and that he and his friend had had to get rid of some drugs.
He later confessed to the murder, just days before he was arrested. "He said that his friend had strangled the man in the car and then dismembered him and encased his body parts in concrete."
She said that she had noticed that her husband’s behaviour had changed a few months before his arrest and that a friend of his had remarked on his sudden weight loss. The man’s father also testified, saying that his son had changed drastically, was no longer happy and seemed depressed.
The man’s wife also said that Halil I. had threatened her husband and family from prison. "He sent word to my husband that if he did not change his testimony, he has to fear for his family, because he has a lot of friends on the outside,” she said.
Halil I. denied this, saying that the 24-year-old was his friend. “We even have the same watches, that we bought together,” he said.
He told the court that the younger man had committed the murder and that he had watched, but had wanted to forget about it. He said that he had spent the days after the murder with his mistress, a younger woman, in a hotel.
She told the court that he had received many messages on his phone: "I saw fear in his eyes. He was frantically looking at his phone.” She added that he hadn’t wanted to tell her what was going on. He had given her an expensive watch as a gift but she told the judge that she had no idea where he had got the money from to buy it.
Halil I.’s cellmate testified that the accused had told him about the murder in prison, and had said his 24-year-old accomplice was “too stupid” to do it. He also told him that he had later regretted not hiding the corpse abroad, somewhere like Slovakia.
The coroner told the jury that she had examined three containers of body parts encased in concrete - all weighing around 100 kg. "The body parts were wrapped in black plastic bags and were well preserved because of the cold conditions of the Mur river," she said.
She added that the limbs had been “expertly cut, at the joints”. She said that the body was clearly dismembered after death and that she suspected a sharp knife had been used. The victim had died from asphyxiation due to strangulation.
A psychiatric expert told the court that the two defendants did not have any mental health issues. He said that in his opinion the pair had worked together as a team and “would complement each other perfectly”.
He described the 24-year-old as “intellectually agile” and capable of coming up with a murder scenario and said that the 30-year-old would then have been to one to work out the grisly details.
A judgement is expected later on Wednesday.