Teenager in court for fatal knife attack

A 17-year-old Afghan boy accused of stabbing a 31-year-old man to death on a German language course in March has told a court in Vienna that he never meant for anyone to die.

Teenager in court for fatal knife attack

The teenager, who arrived in Vienna with his mother and sister in 2013, was taking an AMS German language course so he could catch up with his Austrian peers at school.

A fight broke out between him and the older man, who was also from Afghanistan, over the discussion of music and Islam. The teenager had reportedly told the 31-year-old father-of-two, whose passion was to make music, that he did not listen to music that the Quran does not allow.

A scuffle broke out as a result and the two had to be separated by colleagues and the supervisor.

According to prosecutors, the teenager had then planned to “finish” the other man and returned to the course the next day with two knives, attacking the 31-year-old and stabbing him to death.

The defendant challenges this version of events, however, and says he only brought the knives before he was fearful of his life following threats made by the victim during the fight.

He said when he returned to the course the next day the 31-year-old tried to choke him so he went to stab his hand, but got his stomach instead.

“I want to apologise. I regret that a person was killed,” the defendant told the court on Thursday. “I thought that he would kill me.”

This contradicts statements made by witnesses and the police, however, that suggest the victim neither attacked nor threatened the life of the defendant before he was attacked.

The victim, who leaves behind a wife and two young children, received 17 cuts and stab wounds, including fatal punctures to his lung, stomach, diaphragm, and liver. The teenager fled following the incident but was caught a week later near a motorway in the town of Vösendorf.

The defendant pleaded partially guilty but told the court he was acting in self-defence. If found guilty of murder he could face up to 15 years in jail. The case has been postponed until November.



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