Life sentence for murder of transgender woman

A 32-year-old man has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the brutal murder of a transgender asylum seeker in Vienna in January.

Life sentence for murder of transgender woman
Police at the scene of the crime. Photo: APA

Hande Ö (34), who had been secretly working as a prostitute, was strangled in her home in Ottakring on January 19th.

Judge Ulrich Nachtlberger said that a life sentence was “appropriate” as there was no doubt that the defendant was guilty and meant “to destroy his victim”.

His lawyer had tried to plead manslaughter. The accused said that he and Hande Ö had “fought” after having sex, and that she had attacked him with her long fingernails, scratching him in the cheek. He said he had never meant to kill her and had thought she was just unconscious.

The accused had visited Hande Ö three times, paying her for sex. Weighing around 130 kilos, he had easily overpowered the much smaller woman, tying her hands behind her back and strangling her with her own clothes. A coroner's report showed that the woman had suffered similar injuries to hanging victims.

€3,000 was missing from her apartment, along with two smartphones.

The 32-year-old man was arrested at the end of January after committing two robberies, and DNA evidence linked him to the murder.

Hande Ö was born in Turkey but fled the country last year after being persecuted, and applied for asylum in Austria. Her body was discovered five days after she was murdered.


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