On Monday, a 49-year-old man was convicted at the Vienna Regional Court for Criminal Matters for an attack on the school brothers in Vienna-Floridsdorf shortly after Christmas 2018. An aldermen’s senate imposed a twelve-year prison sentence on the Croat for serious robbery, deprivation of liberty and severe coercion. The spokesman for the regional court, Christoph Zonsics-Kral, confirmed this to the APA on Monday afternoon.
The judgment – the sentence imposed was in the upper third with a sentence of five to 15 years – is not final. The 49-year-old asked for time to think it over, the prosecutor did not make an explanation for the time being. “He was essentially admitting the facts,” explained Zonsics-Kral. The jury’s senate gave the man a mitigating credit for that. On the other hand, a conviction by the Traunstein Regional Court in Germany, where the Croatian had been held hostage with serious robbery and bodily harm in the early 2000s, made things more difficult.
The man, who went into hiding after the attack on the school brothers, was tracked down by a water bottle that he had left behind at the crime scene. A DNA trace was found on it that could be assigned to him – as a result of the crime in Germany, his genetic characteristics were stored in the European DNA database. On May 11th, the Croatian was arrested in his homeland by investigators from the local Federal Criminal Police Office and extradited to the Viennese judiciary at the beginning of June.
After his arrest, he declared the motive to have acted out of hatred of the Catholic Church. He wanted to uncover an alleged abuse scandal among the school brothers that made headlines several years ago. For this reason he traveled to Austria and scouted out the localities in Floridsdorf. The man had no personal connection to the Viennese school brothers.
After the robbery, in which he stole a handgun, cash, an iPad, a photo camera and hard drives, he holed up 300 meters from the crime scene in a wooded area near the sports field that still belongs to the school brothers’ premises. There he remained hidden in the bushes for a few hours. Then he buried the weapon there, a SIG Sauer P226 with six cartridges in the magazine, and fled towards the city center. After a few days he returned to his homeland.
The attack on the Catholic Church of Maria Immaculata in Strebersdorf and the adjoining building of the De La Salle School run by the clergy caused a stir at the time. The clergy were brutally beaten – including with an iron bar – and kicked to the ground. Further abuse was said to have taken place in a nearby office. All victims were handcuffed and gagged. Five school brothers were seriously injured, and one of the churchmen was even in mortal danger for a few months. It was only after about four hours that one of the attacked was able to remove his shackles and get help.
For years there was no trace of the perpetrator. Even a reward of 30,000 euros, the publication of a phantom image and a search for a man on the ZDF program “Aktenzeichen XY” initially did not provide any decisive information.