A 32-year-old woman and her 14-year-old daughter were found dead in their Vienna-Mariahilf apartment in August. The prime suspect in their murders is a 49-year-old Tunisian man who was dating the mother at the time. Police say that the younger children of the woman, aged 6 and 9, witnessed the murders.
The man fled to France but was later arrested. He remained silent until his trial on Wednesday, when he claimed that the deaths were accidental and related to sexual activity. The man said that the woman had asked him to choke her and she never woke up, causing her daughter to become hysterical. However, later in the day, after a statement from the 9-year-old brother, the defendant changed his plea to guilty of double murder.
The man had been living on emergency assistance and had been unemployed for seven years. He had searched for a new partner online before fleeing to France. The verdict, which came on Wednesday evening, was life imprisonment for the defendant, which is legally binding.
The case has shocked Austria and highlights the prevalence of domestic violence in the country. The murders of women by their partners or ex-partners is a significant problem in Austria, with an average of 33 women dying each year as a result of domestic violence. The government has pledged to improve protections for victims, but critics argue that more needs to be done to address the root causes of the problem.
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