Processes: driver after death drive in Berlin in psychiatry

More than ten months after the death drive on Berlin's Ku'damm, some of the victims have returned to the capital.

Processes: driver after death drive in Berlin in psychiatry

More than ten months after the death drive on Berlin's Ku'damm, some of the victims have returned to the capital. The four former students in a class from Bad Arolsen in northern Hesse follow the verdict in silence - and for the first time see the man who left scars in their lives forever.

According to the conviction of the Berlin Regional Court, on June 8, 2022, the 30-year-old drove a car on Kurfürstendamm (Ku'damm) and Tauentzienstraße intentionally into groups of people - in a state of acute psychosis. A woman died and 16 people were injured, some critically. The court ruled that this was murder and attempted murder in 16 cases and ordered the man's permanent placement in a psychiatric hospital on Friday.

What remains is the question of why this "nightmare tragedy," as presiding judge Thomas Groß called the act when the verdict was pronounced. The victims' hopes of getting an answer to this question remained unfulfilled. The man may have decided "to take action against his supposed demons," prosecutor Silke van Sweringen said in her plea.

The teacher died at the scene of the accident

According to the court, one thing is certain: At the time of the crime, the driver was in a psychotic state because he had discontinued the medication prescribed for him. For a few days he was not under the supervision of his mother and sister, who took care of him, the judge said.

The school class from Bad Arolsen was particularly affected by the death trip. A 51-year-old teacher died at the scene, her colleague (53) and eleven students were injured. A 14-year-old from Franconia was also one of those affected. Other victims were a pregnant woman and two men aged 29 and 31. The court assumed that the murder characteristic was dangerous to the public.

Many of the victims appeared as joint plaintiffs in the process. During the approximately three-month trial, however, only her lawyers followed what was happening. At the start of the trial, Judge Groß declared that there was a risk of re-traumatization as a result of the procedure. The juveniles were spared an additional psychological burden by having another witness questioned. In order to take their experiences into account in the process, earlier statements were read out.

When the verdict was announced, Judge Groß named the victims and their respective injuries. "We hope that as many of those affected as possible will be able to close the deal," he said. In his approximately 30 years of professional activity, he has never been so emotionally affected by a procedure.

"The procedure explained how the crime happened. Burning questions for the victims about why were probably not answered satisfactorily even after this procedure," explained lawyer André Iske, who represented four victims as joint plaintiffs. He hopes that the court's findings on the perpetrator's serious illness will help those affected to be able to classify the crime. This is important in order to be able to process what happened.

protection of the general public

All those involved in the trial agreed that the man, who was born in Armenia and has German citizenship, is a seriously ill person with chronic paranoid schizophrenia. According to the report, he was not guilty of the crime and could therefore not be punished. In order to protect the general public, the man is accommodated.

"This is by no means less than a life sentence," the judge said. The accommodation is indefinite - "possibly for life." Co-plaintiff attorney Iske explained: "This is also an important signal to society" - he will no longer be a danger there.

In addition, the court imposed a lifetime driver's license ban on the 30-year-old. It followed the requests of the public prosecutor and the private prosecutor. Defense attorney C. Mark Höfler stated after the verdict that one could not blame the treating physicians, experts, or the supervisor of his client. "They did their best - it was unpredictable, it came out of nowhere." He assumes that the judgment will become final.