In Vienna on Friday, three Afghans were found guilty in the trial of the rape and killing of a 13-year-old girl and sentenced to long prison terms.

The child was found lifeless leaning against a tree on June 26, 2021 early in the morning in Vienna-Donaustadt.

The cause of death was a high overdose of the active substance MDA ("Ecstasy"), death occurred through poisoning and suffocation.

The accused were three young men between the ages of 19 and 24 who came from Afghanistan and sought protection in Austria.

Stephen Lowenstein

Political correspondent based in Vienna.

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The eldest of the three was convicted of murder, the other two of murder by omission, and all three of rape.

The 24-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison by a grand jury, while the other two, who were under 21 at the time, received 20 and 19 years in prison.

The verdict is not final before the prosecution and defense have expressed their views.

The defendants denied rape

The three accused admitted at trial that they had had sexual intercourse with the girl, but each denied the rape and accused the other of being responsible for administering the deadly dose of ecstasy.

Her defense attorneys called on the jury to differentiate and decide whether the crime could be proven to the individual.

Prosecutors, however, accused the defendants of trying to "save themselves from the sinking ship" by denying and blaming each other. They committed a joint crime and tried to cover it up together Girls slept consensually (partly for money. How the girl was administered the drug and what happened to her, none of the three wanted to have noticed. The pleading prosecutor found that the statements of the accused lacked any sign of honestly meant remorse. Lack mitigating circumstances, the maximum penalty should be imposed.

Drug quantity indicates targeted murder

The fact of the sexual intercourse could not be denied due to DNA traces, but the medical findings also clearly pointed to a rape due to relevant injuries.

In the course of the court proceedings, indications had emerged that it had not only been a matter of rape resulting in death, as the indictment said, but of murder.

This is indicated by the amount of the drug, which, according to the toxicological report, represented a triple lethal dose.

Counsel for the relatives as joint plaintiffs pointed out that two of the defendants have previous convictions for drug offenses and must have known that this dose would be fatal.

The maximum sentence would be the same for murder and rape resulting in death, but this clarification is important for the victims' families, their lawyers said.

The girl from Tulln an der Donau was known as a "runaway".

This also emerged from the testimony of a 17-year-old friend on one of the seven days of the trial, with whom she often went to Vienna without going to school.

The girlfriend stated that she and the later victim had met one of the three young Afghans twice before the crime.

The thirteen-year-old got to know him via Instagram, but the witness testified that she could not imagine a relationship between the two, as the accused had stated.

At one of these meetings, the young man slipped the girls pills and became intrusive towards the younger one.

Then her friend pulled her away.

The evening before the crime, the later victim drove to Vienna with an acquaintance from Tulln, but then separated from him.

The prosecutors reconstructed the further course of events as follows: The girl had met the Afghan who she knew and his two acquaintances.

She went with them to the apartment of one of the three.

Drugs were consumed there, initially apparently consensually.

At two o'clock in the morning the girl was still on the phone with the friend with whom she had gone to Vienna, and according to the man from Tulln she was still "well".

According to the further reconstruction, when the girl did not agree to sexual intercourse, the three men are said to have made a plan to make her unconscious.

One suspect was arrested abroad

They made mobile phone footage that was shown behind closed doors during the trial.

The girl's agony should also be seen on it.

The three men said they tried to improve her condition by giving her something to drink and showering her, but that didn't help.

They then took the lifeless victim outside and leaned it against the tree.

They called the emergency doctor – ostensibly as passers-by – when the girl was already dead according to the coroner's findings.

Two of the accused were arrested soon after the crime, along with a third, who dropped out of the case because no DNA evidence was found on the victim.

He is currently serving a sentence for drug trafficking and testified as a witness.

He had procured the ecstasy and was said to have been contacted by the others early in the morning to offer advice on how to wake up the girl.

The oldest of the three accused fled abroad but was tracked down and arrested in London in the summer of 2021.

He's the one who was found guilty of murder.