Youths on trial for killing 'Samaritan'

Wed, Jul 14, 2010, 01:00

IT TOOK less than a minute for the two teenagers to kick Dominic Brunner to death at a Munich train station.

In court yesterday, the two apologised for their brutal attack on the 50-year-old grey-haired man on September 22nd last.

“I must have had a black-out and lost control,” said Markus Schiller (18), with a pale, impassive expression and short blonde hair, dressed in a oversized navy striped shirt: “I’m endlessly sorry for Mr Brunner’s death.” The two young men are known to police.

Schiller faces a life sentence, while his accomplice, Sebastian Leibinger, faces a maximum 10- year sentence, as he was 17 at the time of the attack.

A packed Munich court yesterday heard how, in just 60 seconds, the two left the bespectacled businessman a bloody corpse with 44 separate injuries.

Mr Brunner’s fatal mistake was to intervene in a row on a suburban train between the two teenagers and four schoolchildren.

Hearing the teenagers shouting obscenities at the schoolchildren, Mr Brunner had already called the police to inform them of the disturbance and the train’s location.

After the defendants began bullying the younger group for money – for “alcohol and drugs”, they later admitted – Mr Brunner intervened and accompanied the younger group from the train.

Within seconds of disembarking, a scuffle began in which Mr Brunner was pushed to the ground.

“Now we’ll punch you,” shouted Schiller, according to the charge sheet, hitting Mr Brunner in the face with a fist from which one of his house keys protruded.

According to his lawyer, Schiller had drunk five large beers and half a bottle of vodka that afternoon. Court documents say the two struck “with extreme impact on the head and torso” of Mr Brunner, calling him a “dirty pig” and “bastard”.

Finally, Schiller “stamped on Mr Brunner’s head with full force from above with his foot”. At this stage, Leibinger told police he tried to get Schiller to stop.

Mr Brunner was rushed to hospital, but died two hours later from his injuries.

Key to the trial is the defendants’ claim that Mr Brunner struck them first, and they were defending themselves. The case shocked Germany at the time and the trial will reopen a debate about civil courage, or the lack of it, in conflict situations.

Prosecutor testimony is expected to reveal whether other passengers declined to get involved in the scuffle on the train or the subsequent fight on the platform.

Watching proceedings impassively yesterday, wearing sunglasses and a blue blazer, was the victim’s 80-year-old father, Oskar, a civil co-prosecutor in the case.

In his death notice for his son, Mr Brunner wrote: “It’s tragically difficult to believe you left us because you protected others.”