Four of six accused get lengthy sentences over Vienna jihadist attack

Verdict in trial of six men accused of providing various degrees of help to a jihadist, in Vienna
An Austrian police officer waits outside the courtroom as the verdict for six men accused of providing various degrees of help to a jihadist who killed four people in a shooting rampage in Vienna in November 2020 is expected, in Vienna, Austria, February 1, 2023. REUTERS/Lisa Leutner

VIENNA, Feb 2 (Reuters) - A Vienna court on Thursday handed lengthy sentences, including life in prison, to four of six men accused of helping a jihadist prepare a deadly shooting rampage in 2020.

The 20-year-old attacker, who was shot dead by police within minutes of opening fire, killed four people on Nov. 2, 2020, mowing down crowds as they sat on the terraces of bars and restaurants in central Vienna. More than 20 people were injured.

While police said the gunman, Kujtim Fejzulai, who held Austrian and North Macedonian nationality, carried out the attack alone, the six defendants were accused of providing help beforehand. Most supported Islamic State militants, as did Fejzulai, but denied knowing what he was planning.

In an overnight ruling, the court sentenced two of the six, including the man who sold Fejzulai the assault rifle he used in the attack and ammunition, to life in prison for being accessories to murder.

Two others received sentences of 20 and 19 years, the court said in a statement. The remaining two were found guilty of being members of a terrorist organisation but acquitted of being accessories to murder and sentenced to two years in prison partially suspended.

Of the six men aged 22 to 32, five were convicted of being members of a terrorist organisation. Only the defendant, identified as 32-year-old Adam M, who sold the assault rifle, was not.

The second defendant sentenced to life was Heydayatollah Z, 28, who lived with the attacker for weeks before the attack. He was found to have encouraged Fejzulai and helped prepare weapons and ammunition - traces of his DNA was found on both.

The two who were handed lesser sentences included Arijanit F, a 22-year-old Kosovar who drove the attacker to Slovakia on a failed attempt to buy ammunition.

The two defendants with the mildest sentences accepted the ruling, the court said, Of the remaining four, three plan to appeal and the other is considering it, added.

Reporting by Francois Murphy Editing by Bernadette Baum

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