Three young men have been convicted of murder and rape in connection with the abuse and drug death of 13-year-old Leonie in Vienna. The regional court imposed long prison sentences on Friday evening. The oldest suspect, a 24-year-old, was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder. The jury found it established that he administered a lethal drug dose to the girl.
They further ruled that the co-defendants, aged 19 and 20, were accomplices in committing murder by omission by failing to prevent the 13-year-old's death. The two young men received prison sentences of 20 and 19 years respectively. The judgments are not yet final.
According to the indictment, the 13-year-old wanted to spend the night in June 2021 with the men from Afghanistan and later drive home to the outskirts of Vienna. But in the apartment of one of the three young men, the suspects mixed at least six tablets of ecstasy in a drink and raped her, according to the indictment. After dying of a triple overdose, she was dumped on a grass verge at the side of the road. The public prosecutor's office relied, among other things, on toxicological tests, DNA traces, injuries and a cell phone video of the victim's agony, which one of the men recorded immediately after the abuse.
The case had caused great concern in Austria. Even the then Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) commented on the murder of the 13-year-old girl and reiterated his line in asylum policy: "I think it's intolerable that people come to us, say they're looking for protection, and then commit cruel, barbaric crimes in Austria.” The three now convicted are Afghan migrants. The conservative chancellor party ÖVP called for a consistent practice of deporting criminal asylum seekers. The co-governing Greens blamed the Ministry of the Interior, which has been led by ÖVP ministers for years, for delayed repatriations.
The political component came to the fore again on Friday at the trial. In her closing speech, the public prosecutor called for a verdict with a "signal effect" for the three defendants from Afghanistan. "It should show that women are not fair game," she said in the Vienna district court. A lawyer for the victim's family also raised the issue of migration in court on Friday. "In Austria, women and girls have their rights and nobody can take that away from them," he said.
"I would like to emphasize at this point that this is not a political statement or symbolism," said the presiding judge when the verdict was announced. The three accused had committed the most serious crimes and treated the girl "like an object".
The defendants only admitted to having had sex with the 13-year-old, which they said was consensual. They blamed each other for the deadly drugs. "It was never my intention that someone takes drugs and dies," said the 24-year-old, who said he dealt drugs and recommended his customers to only take a quarter of a tablet of ecstasy. "I apologize to all Austrians and to the family of the victim," he said. The other two defendants made similar statements.