German prosecutors accused of cover-up in murder trial

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German prosecutors stand accused of a cover-up in the case of two teenagers on trial for murdering a businessman, after a report Saturday alleged that the victim had a heart condition.

In a case that shocked Germany, teenagers Markus Schiller and Sebastian Leibinger were accused of beating 50-year-old Dominink Brunner to death at a railway station in Munich last September after he attempted to protect a group of children.

In its edition to be published Monday, Der Spiegel news magazine alleges that prosecutors failed to make public the fact that Brunner suffered from a hypertrophy of the heart that could have led to a fatal cardiac arrest.

Furthermore, blows inflicted by the teenagers did not cause a fatal fracture of the skull or other bones, the magazine reported.

The magazine also reported that several witnesses testified that they saw Brunner hit the teenagers twice before they hit him, as the defence has claimed.

The teenagers, aged 17 and 18 at the time, said they tried to bully a group of 13 to 15-year-olds into handing over 15 euros (19 dollars) while on a train.

When Brunner saw the altercation, he confronted the assailants, offered to exit the train with the frightened children at a station and alerted the police on his mobile phone.

Brunner was punched and kicked more than 40 times in the incident.

The case triggered an outpouring of rage and sorrow across the country, as the media mourned Brunner as a fallen hero and then president Horst Koehler posthumously awarded Brunner the Federal Cross of Merit for civil courage.

© 2010 AFP

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