Austria: Afghan knifeman lies like a trooper

A 20-year-old man who allegedly tried to kill his 17-year-old girlfriend in Linz in October last year has stood trial on Friday for attempted murder. The accused does not admit to having intended to kill the teenager, the whole crime had happened “unintentionally” or “by mistake”, he said. Still on the day of the crime, the Afghan is said to have declared that he would “cause a bloodbath” and that he would do again and again what he had done with his girlfriend.

According to the indictment, the 20-year-old asylum seeker, who has been in Austria for five years, and the 17-year-old, who lives in a residential group, had an on-off relationship. They have a common two-year-old son who lives with a foster family. There had been frequent arguments about visiting rules, the accused described. His ex-girlfriend, on the other hand, said that he had been very jealous and had often called her names. He had also once said that he would “chop her head off” if she turned to somebody else. However, he had never physically assaulted her before.

On October 18, the couple again had an argument in the 17-year-old’s room. In the course of the argument, the 20-year-old allegedly took a knife from the kitchen and stabbed his girlfriend in the neck. Eventually, she managed to take the knife away from him, whereupon he fetched another one, the prosecutor said. In total, the woman suffered eight stab wounds, mostly to the neck. The prosecution considers this an attempted murder.

The accused pleaded guilty and eloquently described the quarrel with his son’s mother, “she caused me a lot of problems”. But when the judge asked him if or how he had stabbed, he remained vague: “I lost control, I don’t know how it happened”, he said, another time he answered: “We had a scuffle. In the commotion, the knife struck her neck”, or “the knife somehow got in her throat”.

According to the indictment, the victim begged the 20-year-old to let her call the ambulance. He allowed the girlfriend to do so on the condition that she said she had injured herself. In fact, the young woman stated this to the first responders and only told them about the attack by her boyfriend in hospital. The boyfriend was also taken to hospital. There he is said to have behaved very aggressively and to have announced a “bloodbath”. However, he does not remember this exactly. Perhaps he had said something “in his sleep or in a dream” or was not understood so well because of the language barrier, he assumed.

The psychiatric expert Adelheid Kastner certified the defendant’s sanity. Although she considered him “not entirely harmless”, she did not see the necessity of imprisonment. She described the 20-year-old, who had apparently never been educated, as intellectually only moderately gifted, excitable and with “a flexible attitude to facts”. He had attracted negative attention several times in previous care facilities, among other things because of a “certain affinity for knives”, and there were also drug problems.

The police records show that the accused repeatedly told different versions of the events. During questioning, he claimed that his girlfriend had attacked him with a knife and choked him. The young woman was stunned during the questioning: “None of this is true, not a single word.

The jury is not expected to reach a verdict until later that night.

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