The murder trial against a 29-year-old Lower Austrian continued on Thursday at the Eisenstadt regional court. The man is said to have drowned a 22-year-old Burgenlander in a drainage canal of Lake Neusiedl in Mörbisch (Eisenstadt-Umgebung district) on August 9, 2020 and then stole cash and a watch from him. He pleaded not guilty. Several witnesses and experts testified in court. A judgment is planned for the evening.
PICTURED: APA / THERESA PUCHEGGER
The charges are murder and robbery. The Lower Austrian is said to have lured the 22-year-old to the sewage treatment plant in Mörbisch, hit him in the face, kicked him in the stomach and dragged him into the drainage canal. According to the public prosecutor's office, he is said to have pushed the Burgenlander under water until he drowned. As a possible motive, the public prosecutor gave money problems and debts that the 29-year-old should have had with the victim.
A friend of the victim was invited on Thursday. The 22-year-old asked him to come to a meeting that evening, but he canceled. The man told the court that the Burgenlander wanted to collect money at the meeting that someone owed him. According to the public prosecutor's office, the defendant is said to have taken a large amount of money from the Burgenlander and promised him that he would get double that amount back in a short time. But that didn't happen.
The defendant had previously brought the friend of the 22-year-old into play by stating that the Burgenlander had met three Albanians in Mörbisch, who belong to a group around this friend, and only asked him to come along. The victim owed the Albanians. When the meeting escalated, the 29-year-old fled. The witness stated that the victim was not in debt to him. In addition, he was “never in my life” in Mörbisch.
Several residents of Mörbisch were also invited as witnesses. They noticed the suspect's car in the community. They said they saw the black vehicle with yellow foils in July and August 2020. One said he saw the car on the morning of August 9, 2020 in the reed belt near the sewage treatment plant in the immediate vicinity of the crime scene and wondered why the vehicle was parked there.
After the crime, the defendant allegedly stole cash from the victim's pocket and car, as well as a watch. The two cell phones and some of the 22-year-old's clothes were also missing. According to the public prosecutor, the Lower Austrian had money problems and debts. In addition to his job as an accountant, the 22-year-old also dealt with real estate transactions. He had money and was open to business ideas. The two men who “wanthaben” met each other on the online sales platform by collecting perfumes had, for example, made credit transactions.
The Burgenlander is said to have had 9,500 euros with him on the evening of the crime. Such a sum was found in the glove compartment of the Lower Austrian, the bills partially wet. An investigator explained to the court that the soil on part of the notes “goes very well together” with the one at the crime scene. The same applies to soil on the floor mat on the passenger side of his car. The defendant denied that the money came from the victim. It was wet because he buried it in a former playground in his home community. However, the one on the notes did not match the soil there, the investigator said.
An expert explained that the victim's autopsy revealed death from drowning. Traces of blunt violence and abrasions were also found – for example on the face, on the forearms and hands as well as on the neck. The injuries would suggest that the 22-year-old was forcibly pushed underwater.
Another investigator reported that the defendant changed his version of what happened several times during the interrogation. He was found through his car that was being filmed by a video camera on the access road to the crime scene. The Burgenlander's car had also closed behind him. Half an hour later, only that of the Lower Austrian left. There is no evidence that three other people – as stated by the defendant – were at the scene, the investigator said.