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Life sentence for killer driver judged to be sane

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Life sentence for killer driver judged to be sane
Screen grab of the car in Herrengasse. Photo: ORF
20:43 CEST+02:00
A jury in the Austrian city of Graz has found a man guilty of killing three people in the southern city last year by driving his 4x4 at high speed down a crowded pedestrian street.

They agreed that he was sane when he did it, even though two psychological reports concluded he was not criminally responsible. The judge ruled that Alen R. should be sentenced to life imprisonment and sent to a mental institution.

Alen R. appeared in court dressed all in white, and said that he thought he was being chased, had heard gunshots and that his car had mechanical problems. "I didn't want to run anyone over, I just wanted to get away so that I didn't get shot," the 27-year-old father-of-two told the court. "I felt like I was being chased."

He sped down Herrengasse in central Graz, which was busy with Saturday afternoon shoppers, on June 20, 2015 at up to 80 kilometres per hour. A four-year-old boy hit by the vehicle died at the scene as did a woman, 24 and a man, 28. More than 100 others were injured. Police last year quickly ruled out "terrorism" as a motive.

His ex-wife appeared during the trial as a witness and told the jury that she believed he was pretending to be mad. She did confirm that he was a heavy user of cannabis and believed that he was being pursued by "martians and Turks" and would often travel on the tram through Graz armed with a machete.

Alen R. remained silent as the verdict was read. The judgement is not yet final and can still be appealed.


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