Austrian hotel owner on trial for hot tub death

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The owner of a luxury hotel in Austria went on trial on Wednesday accused of causing the death of a German woman who allegedly caught a killer bug in one of his establishment's hot tubs.

The 49-year-old was a guest in a chalet with a Jacuzzi at the Alpine hotel south of Salzburg in February 2010 when she fell ill and was repatriated to Germany where she died of multiple organ failure in hospital 10 days later.

Doctors said that the woman was infected with the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa and an outside expert appointed by the court has said that bacteria could have bred in the tub because of poor hygiene.

Prosecutors have charged the hotelier with involuntary manslaughter, saying the 48-year-old caused the woman's death because the tub was not properly cleaned.

The hotelier has admitted that the tub was not clean but denies being responsible for the tragedy, with his lawyers saying the woman who died had been seriously ill beforehand.

"The defence has applied for an expert opinion from a doctor in internal medicine that is meant to show that there was no causality," said Imre Juhasz, deputy president and spokesman of the Salzburg district court.

Defence lawyers also want to question the dead woman's physicians as well as the doctor who carried out the autopsy. It was unclear how long the trial would last.

© 2011 AFP

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