The defendants, aged 17 to 20, are accused of grossly negligent homicide and negligent bodily harm. A trial date has not yet been set, confirmed Birgit Borns, spokeswoman for the Wiener Neustadt regional court, on Wednesday.
Shortly before 12:30 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, several locals detonated ball bombs in a field in St. Johann am Steinfelde, a cadastral community in Ternitz. An 18-year-old was probably in the immediate vicinity of the fireworks when the explosion occurred; any help came too late for him. A man of the same age was flown to hospital by emergency helicopter with serious injuries. A 17-year-old and another 18-year-old were taken to the Wiener Neustadt State Hospital with injuries. The older of the two died from his injuries a few days after the incident.
The four defendants are said to have bought the firecracker together with one of the victims in the Czech Republic last year and illegally imported it to Austria without official permission and disregarding the warnings, the ORF reported. In addition, the accused are said to have jointly built a device to launch the rockets on New Year’s Eve or supported this preparatory work. The defendants had no technical evidence for the launch; the launch device – plastic pipes that were inserted into the ground – was not professional.
Two defendants suffered injuries in the accident. According to the report, the other two wanted to film the shooting and were uninjured.
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