German, 98, accused of trying to murder wife: court

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A 98-year-old man went on trial in Berlin Thursday accused of trying to kill his wife of 52 years with a baseball bat, a knife and a starter pistol he mistook for a loaded gun, a court spokesman said.

The defendant, who the spokesman said was the oldest person ever to stand trial in Berlin, is charged with attempted homicide and grievous bodily harm and could face up to 15 years in prison.

"The accused admitted to the charges" when he appeared before the judge, the spokesman told reporters, who have been barred from the courtroom during the trial.

"He indicated that it was in the broadest sense a suicide attempt," the spokesman added, saying that the man had claimed that they both wanted to end their lives.

Prosecutors say the man in June fired the weapon which only contained blanks at his 74-year-old wife, thinking it was loaded with live ammunition.

When he realised that his wife was unharmed, he is believed to have struck her repeatedly on the head and upper body with a bat.

With his victim still breathing, the defendant is accused of trying to cut her wrists and carotid artery but was unsuccessful.

Police who were called to the scene took the woman to the hospital and the husband to jail, where he also underwent a medical examination.

The accused's wife did not appear in court Thursday.

© 2010 AFP

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