6 men convicted in Sikh temple attack during which cleric was killed in Vienna

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

6 convicted in Austria temple shooting

VIENNA — A court on Tuesday convicted six men for an attack at a temple in Vienna that killed a Sikh sect leader and wounded more than a dozen people.

Worshippers used a frying pan and microphone stands to fend off assailants wielding knives and a handgun during the attack on May 24, 2009, which also wounded another Sikh cleric and later triggered riots in several cities in northern India.

After hours of deliberations, a Vienna court sentenced the 35-year-old main defendant to life in prison for murder and attempted murder, spokesman Christian Gneist said.

Three others received 18-year sentences and a fifth defendant got 17 years in prison as accessories to murder and attempted murder, and for assault. The sixth man was sentenced to six months behind bars for attempted assault.

The main suspect, who was not identified, claimed over the course of the proceedings that he could not remember the incident. However, his DNA was found on the gun used as the murder weapon.

The prosecution had argued that the defendants were fundamentalist Sikhs who accused the preachers — both of whom were visiting from India — of being disrespectful of a “holy book.”

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