Austrian man jailed for gruesome killing of girlfriend

An Austrian man was sentenced to life imprisonment on Friday in Vienna for the brutal murder of his girlfriend in March, in a case that shocked the country.

A police car in Austria. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP
A police car in Austria. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

The 47-year-old will be sent to an institution for mentally abnormal criminals. The 35-year-old victim was beaten, strangled and then set on fire in a tobacconist’s store she ran in Vienna.

The murderer showed little remorse over the course of the trial, at one point saying: “She brought me that far, I didn’t want to do it.”

Prosecutors pointed to the fact that the murderer drove to the site with bottles of petrol in his car as proof the crime was premeditated. The victim was known to have complained about her boyfriend’s “pathological jealousy” just days before the attack.

She was rescued alive from the burning store by two passersby who noticed the fire and rammed the door open with a shopping trolley from a neighbouring supermarket.

The victim was in intensive care for four weeks before succumbing to her injuries. According to medical expert Christian Reiter, 75 percent of the woman’s skin had severe burns.

READ MORE: Outrage in Austria over ninth woman murdered in 2021

“There’s virtually no chance that someone could survive this,” Reiter told the court, adding that the woman would have been in “excruciating pain” until she died.

A court-appointed psychiatrist described the murderer as “totally devoid of empathy” and exhibiting a “pronounced narcissism”.

During the trial the court had been played a harrowing video of the crime, reconstructed from the shop’s CCTV camera. The victim’s family, who had been in attendance, left while the video was played.

The killing is just one of several high profile murders of women and girls, often at the hands of partners or ex-partners, which have led to heightened debate on how to combat femicide.

The government has pledged several measures to try to address the problem, including increased funding for organisations helping victims of violence.

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‘Decomposing smell’: Austrian police called due to smelly shoes

Austria's police department said they were called to an apartment complex in Vienna after a person was concerned about a "smell of decomposition".

'Decomposing smell': Austrian police called due to smelly shoes

This week, the Viennese police department started a weekly ‘series’ of sharing interesting stories on their social media accounts

Calling the series ‘Misunderstanding Wednesday’ (Missverständnismittwoch), the very first post is about a call they received to an apartment complex after a concerned citizen complained to emergency services about a “smell of decomposition in the staircase”.

READ ALSO: Stephansdom: Vienna woken up after hacker sets church bells to ring at 2am

The alleged corpse, it turns out, was just the neighbour’s smelly shoes which were left in the building corridor, in front of their apartment.

The police didn’t say when exactly the incident took place.

“When our colleagues are called because of the ‘smell of decomposition in the staircase’… and notice that the stunk is from the neighbour’s shoes which were left in front of the apartment door”, the official Twitter account of the Vienna police department reads.

‘When in doubt it is an emergency’

The authorities were light-hearted about the misunderstanding, even sharing a “meme-like” picture on their social media accounts, saying “some missions turn out to be different than initially assumed”.

READ ALSO: Austrian police warn public about new ‘fake cops’ scam

However, they reiterated that the misunderstandings should not deter people from calling 133, the emergency police number. They added that in case of emergencies and even if you are not sure, the authorities should be called and they will assist you.

“Note: in case of doubt, it is an emergency”, the Vienna police department says. “Never be afraid to dial the emergency number.”