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Life sentence for schizophrenic German who killed six in Trier car-ramming attack

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By Euronews  with AFP
Candles and flowers are placed for the victims in Trier, western Germany, a day after a car was driven fatally into pedestrians, December 2, 2020.
Candles and flowers are placed for the victims in Trier, western Germany, a day after a car was driven fatally into pedestrians, December 2, 2020.   -   Copyright  JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP   -  

A man who killed six people by driving his car into a crowd of pedestrians in a German city in 2020 has been sentenced to life in prison.

The regional court at Trier in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate sentenced Bernd Weimann, 52, to life imprisonment and an obligation to undergo psychiatric treatment.

Weimann drove his SUV at high speed into a designated pedestrian zone on December 1, 2020, indiscriminately targeting passers-by.

He killed five people, including a baby, and injured many others. A sixth victim died almost a year after the attack.

During the year-long trial, prosecutors argued that the defendant planned the attack with the intention of "killing or injuring as many people as possible". 

At the time of the attack, investigators said he was under the influence of alcohol and had driven his car in a "zig-zag" pattern into the crowd.

Any political, terrorist or religious motive was ruled out at the time, and none was established during the trial.

According to the prosecution, the driver was frustrated by his personal situation. Before the attack, he had no fixed address and lived in his car, developing a "general hatred of humanity".

The defendant was only able to give an approximate and sometimes contradictory account of the events. An expert opinion prepared before the trial determined that he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

In recent years, Germany has suffered several attacks by mentally disturbed drivers ramming their cars into crowds.

One of the most serious was carried out in April 2018 in the western city of Münster. A man drove a minivan into a group of people gathered outside a restaurant, killing five of them before shooting himself.

In December 2016, 12 people were killed when a man drove a lorry into a Christmas market in Berlin, in the deadliest Islamist attack to be perpetrated on German soil.