Judging Subway Violence U-Bahn Attacker Sentenced in Berlin

A Berlin court on Monday found an 18-year-old student guilty of attempted manslaughter and sentenced him to almost three years in prison for an attack on a Berlin subway platform in April. In the well-publicized assault, Torben P. knocked down the victim and stomped repeatedly on his head before being pulled away by a tourist.

Torben P. (right) and his friend Nico A. (left) on the first day of their trial in Berlin in August.
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Torben P. (right) and his friend Nico A. (left) on the first day of their trial in Berlin in August.


In a case that helped spawn a debate over the safety of Berlin's public transportation, a Berlin court found an 18-year-old student guilty Monday of attempted manslaughter for an attack on a subway platform last April.

Torben P. was sentenced to two years and ten months in prison for attacking a 29-year-old craftsman named Markus P. on the subway platform at Friedrichstrasse, in the heart of Berlin. Video footage of the attack shows Torben P. hitting his victim on the head with a full plastic bottle, and when he has fallen to the ground, stomping on his head four times.

At the beginning of the trial in August, Torben P. said: "I am shocked and appalled by myself."

Markus P. suffered head injuries, a broken nose, contusions and ongoing psychological trauma. Experts said at the trial that his injuries would have been worse if the attacker had not been wearing rubber-soled shoes, and if a tourist from Bavaria had not pulled the attacker away.

The case gained nationwide attention after video surveillance footage of the attack was made public by the police and was widely viewed on YouTube. That attack, and one in Feb. 2011 at another Berlin subway station in which the victim received serious head injuries, drew attention to the issue of safety and security on Berlin's trains and buses. A trial of the alleged attackers in the February incident begins in Berlin later this fall.

The center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and some of the right-wing parties tried to gain traction with the issue of subway safety during the recent Berlin state elections. Despite such efforts, the Social Democrats (SPD) and Mayor Klaus Wowereit won re-election on Sept. 18.

Another Attack Ends in Violence

Subway violence made headlines again in Berlin over the weekend. A 23-year-old man was killed early Saturday morning after fleeing with a companion from three men who had reportedly attacked them in the Kaiserdamm U-Bahn station in the western district of Charlottenburg. At about 4:50 a.m., the man ran out of the station onto the street, where, according to the police, he was run over by a car and killed.

Two of the accused attackers later turned themselves in to the police. Early reports indicated that the attack took place in a part of the station that was not visible by video surveillance.

Overall, violence on public transportation in Berlin is down. In 2010, there were 4,529 reported cases of dangerous and serious injuries on the street, or in public places, including public transportation in Berlin, according to police statistics. That number dropped 13.9 percent from the year before.

Torben P. could have received a maximum of 15 years in prison for the April attack. On Sept. 8, prosecutors recommended four years in juvenile detention for the young man, whose age, 18 at the time of the crime, put him in a legal gray zone between juvenile and adult sentencing.

mbw -- with wires

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