Three years' jail for death of Turkish-German heroine

16th June 2015, Comments 0 comments

A German court on Tuesday jailed an 18-year-old man for three years over the death of a young German-Turkish woman who became a national heroine for giving her life trying to protect two teenage girls.

The panel of judges in the western city of Darmstadt found Sanel Masovic guilty of inflicting bodily harm with fatal consequences during a confrontation in a fast-food restaurant last November.

The verdict came in just under the prosecution's call for three years and three months in prison. The defence had requested a suspended sentence.

Presiding judge Jens Assling said Masovic had not wanted student teacher Tugce Albayrak, 22, to die, saying the accused was "no killer".

But he added that "no verdict in the world could in any way make up for the loss" suffered by Albayrak's parents and brother.

The victim's mother and friends wept as the verdict was read out, while Masovic sat impassively in the packed courtroom.

The fateful altercation began when Albayrak confronted a group of men for harassing two 14-year-old girls in the toilets of the restaurant.

The groups later shouted insults at each other outside in the car park.

Masovic admitted during his nearly two-month trial, which heard more than 60 witnesses, that he slapped Albayrak so hard that she fell to the ground, putting her in a coma.

She died days later in hospital, on her 23rd birthday, when her parents took her off life support.

The attack was captured on a surveillance video later broadcast on national media, drawing a wave of shock and revulsion.

"I am deeply sorry for what I did," Masovic told the juvenile district court at the start of the trial in April.

"I can't imagine the pain and suffering I inflicted on her family. I never thought she would die."

About 1,000 mourners attended Albayrak's funeral and President Joachim Gauck has said he is considering a mass online petition for her to be posthumously awarded the Federal Order of Merit, Germany's highest civilian distinction.

Chancellor Angela Merkel also expressed support for awarding the honour to a woman whom Gauck called a "role model" for showing "bravery and civil courage in an exemplary way".

German media also cast the case of Masovic, whose parents came from a Serbian village, as a cautionary tale of immigration and integration, pitting a delinquent with a previous criminal record against a successful woman with strong ties to her community.

Masovic's lawyer Heinz-Juergen Borowsky said he would appeal the verdict, calling it overly harsh.

© 2015 AFP

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