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Graz killer driver moved to psychiatric hospital

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Graz killer driver moved to psychiatric hospital
Photo: ORF screengrab
09:24 CEST+02:00
A man who killed three people including a four-year-old boy when he drove his car at high speed through a pedestrian shopping zone in Graz last June will not be charged with murder, a court announced this week.

The Austrian court decided this week that 27-year-old Alen R. was not of sound mind and ordered he be released from the jail where he has been kept for nearly a year and sent to a psychiatric hospital where he will receive treatment.

The court also confirmed he will not face murder charges when the case goes to trial, probably at the end of summer. R. will not face a life sentence but may be placed in an institute for mentally ill offenders.

“Objectively, we really had no other possibility,” said the state prosecutor Christian Kroschl who reviewed evaluations of three experts who disagreed over whether Alen R. was legally sane.

German professor for forensic psychiatry and psychotherapy at Georg-August University, Jürgen Müller, was asked to provide a third opinion last week after two previous experts disagreed over whether the defendant was of sound mind.

In his report Müller said the perpetrator was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the attack on June 20th 2015.

All three experts agreed however that he “had carried out the act under the influence of a mental and spiritual abnormality of a high degree and there is a high risk of him carrying out further similar actions.”

Alen R. killed three people and injured 36 others when he drove his car up to 100 km/hr through the Graz city centre.

As well as the four-year-old boy, Alen R. also killed a 53-year-old man, and a 28-year-old Muslim who worked for Graz social services, and who had gotten married just two weeks before the incident.

"Slave"

The 26-year-old wife of Alen R. gave a frank interview to Austrian television last year, telling how she was beaten and abused by her husband.

Bosnian Elena R., who has two sons with Alen R., told the ORF that when she moved to Austria four years ago to get married he took away her passport and treated her like a slave.

“He beat and kicked me every day, even during my pregnancy," she said. She told reporter Christoph Feurstein that she was also abused by his parents, who the couple lived with.

She got to know her husband online, and said that he came across as “a good and loving person”. But things changed as soon as they were married. She said that she tried to run away but that she didn't have any money, a phone or a passport. She was only allowed outside in the company of her husband or his parents.

She tearfully told Feurstein that Alen R. “wanted a slave who would give birth to his children, and cook and clean for him.” He told her that she had to wear a headscarf and forbid her to wear shorts. She said that he threatened to harm her family in Bosnia if she left him. “He threatened me with his gun, said he would kill me and throw my body in the river,” she said.

Killing spree

When she asked him for a divorce he became enraged and abusive, kicking her in the back and pulling out her hair. Elena said she was able to call her mother from the house and give her the address. Her mother then called the Austrian police who came to the house and helped her and her children escape to a shelter for abused women.

Alen R. had a restraining order placed on him, and it was three weeks after this that he embarked on his killing spree - telling police afterwards that he felt “persecuted”.

Elena said that she was shocked to hear what her husband had done and expressed her sorrow for his victims and their families.

Austrian prosecutors confirmed last year that they were investigating Alen R's parents after the serious allegations of abuse.

The director of the women's shelter where Elena has been staying told the ORF that she believes police should have begun an official investigation into Alen R. as soon as his wife pressed charges on June 11th 2015 - as her allegations were serious and she urgently needed protection.

Police were also called to the house in 2014 after Alen R. threatened his wife with a gun in front of their young children and fired shots in the garden.

The police said they did everything within their power but were hampered by “certain legal guidelines”.

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