On January 4, 2023, the accused first knocked a 63-year-old passenger unconscious in the U3 with punches in the face, before he repeatedly kicked the helpless person lying on the ground in the head and upper body with full force. The public prosecutor’s office assumes – at least conditional – intent to kill.
“He certainly didn’t intend for someone to die,” countered defender Johannes Maximilian Fouchs. The accused reiterated that. He didn’t want to kill the man, “I know that. I have principles in my life that I strictly adhere to. I would never think of something like that.” He was under the influence of drugs at the time and therefore has memory gaps: “I wanted to go to friends, that’s all I know.” He was “run into” in the subway: “I thought someone wanted to fight.” He “reacted” to it. He was “terribly sorry for what happened, I regret it, then I stopped anyway.”
Surveillance cameras filmed the crime
The 63-year-old – owner of a tobacconist in the Praterstern – had taken the subway home from work. At the Stephansplatz station he changed to the U3 in the direction of the Volkstheater and sat down in an empty seat. Because the man was sitting next to him with his legs wide apart, he asked him to adopt a different posture. The 21-year-old initially ignored the older man, when he repeated his request, according to the prosecution, he thundered his fist in his face several times without any warning.
The tobacconist immediately lost consciousness and fell to the ground, where he lay on his back. What happened next is documented by recordings from the surveillance cameras of Wiener Linien: the 21-year-old stands with his legs apart over the victim, grasps the handrails with both hands, pulls himself up “and stomps the unconscious person lying on the ground several times on the head and that breastbone”, as prosecutor Tatjana Spitzer-Edl told the jury.
The 63-year-old has no memory of these events. This was “switched off”, he reported in his testimony. The memory only started again “when I was in the hospital. It was 9:00 p.m. I can see the clock in front of me.”
The tobacconist suffered a concussion with a long-lasting memory gap, a fracture of the sternum, fractures of the right collarbone and the first right rib, a fracture of the nasal bone with indentation of the left part of the nasal bone pyramid as well as bruises and bloodshot infections in the entire head and face area. “I did a long period of physical therapy. I’m doing well physically through exercises,” explained the witness. Psychologically, things are different. When he rides the subway, he “often feels a great deal of discomfort. I have to learn to live with it. I think I’ll be able to do that in the long run.”
witness stepped in
The excess of violence directed against the 63-year-old only stopped when another passenger intervened and pushed the perpetrator aside. A psychiatric report obtained during the investigation confirmed that the young man had a combined personality disorder, so that the public prosecutor’s office applied for the accused to be placed in a forensic therapy center in addition to the conviction. According to the report, the 21-year-old is of sound mind, but due to his personality traits he is to be regarded as so dangerous that without therapeutic measures to accompany his detention, criminal offenses with serious consequences are to be expected again.
Perpetrator comes from difficult circumstances
The danger posed by the man, who comes from a difficult family background – he grew up in out-of-home care, has not completed any training and was most recently without a permanent home – is also manifested in the fact that three other acts of violence are also included in the indictment. On December 29th and 31st, for no apparent reason, he had punched two men and broken their noses. One had not given him a cigarette, the other had simply stood at a bus stop. On January 10, he showed up at his ex-girlfriend’s place of work and demanded an interview. When the woman’s boss sent him away because she didn’t want to see the 21-year-old, he was punched in the face.
“cases of completely senseless violence”
“These are four cases of completely senseless violence that is disgusting. For a normal person it is incomprehensible,” said defense attorney Fouchs. The 21-year-old pointed out that he started smoking marijuana when he was 16, and last year he took cocaine, ecstasy and LSD. That’s why he has “film tears” and can’t remember a lot.
The hearing will continue on Wednesday. On the second day of the hearing, the forensic and psychiatric experts have their say.