German car racers found guilty of murder for the second time

Two men are convicted over illegal race in Berlin that resulted in death of 69-year-old

Defendants Marvin N (L) and Hamdi H (C) await a verdict in their case at court in Berlin, Germany. Photograph: Paul Zinken/dpa/AFP/Getty Images

Defendants Marvin N (L) and Hamdi H (C) await a verdict in their case at court in Berlin, Germany. Photograph: Paul Zinken/dpa/AFP/Getty Images

 

Two German men who killed a motorist during an illegal car race through Berlin have been sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of second-degree murder – for the second time.

Ruling in the case, Berlin state court said the two “arrogant” men “deified” their souped-up cars and had delusions about their driving abilities.

A previous murder sentence had been struck out by Germany’s highest administrative court and sent back for a retrial. On Tuesday the lower court once again found the two men guilty, ruling: “What happened has nothing to do with neglect – the defendants, for no good reason, played with the lives of others.”

The two friends, identified only as Marvin N (30) and Hamdi H (26), met by chance in the early hours of February 1st, 2016. They agreed to a race down the Kurfürstendamm boulevard through western Berlin. They ran more than 11 red lights at up to 170km/h and, at the 12th, Marvin N crashed into a 69-year-old man driving a Jeep. The man driving the Jeep was killed instantly; the two younger men were barely injured.

The defence sought convictions for manslaughter and dangerous driving, saying the two men had no intention of killing anyone.

On Tuesday the judge dismissed their arguments, saying the two men’s behaviour had been deeply arrogant and narcissistic.

“I was absolutely convinced that I was one of the few in traffic who had mastered the art of steering a car to perfection,” said Marvin N during the trial. “I don’t know how I got myself into such a situation of overestimating my own abilities.”

Third time

Tuesday’s verdict was the third time the high-profile case was before a court in Berlin. The first time saw the initial conviction, which was overturned when the higher court found intent had not been sufficiently proved.

A second case collapsed over concerns of possible bias of the presiding judge.

German police welcomed the third verdict, saying it was hopefully the last, and describing it as an important signal in their long-term battle against illegal car races in Berlin.

“Whoever races at extreme speeds through several red lights, without concern for possible risks, tacitly accept the possible death of people, and uses their vehicle as an object dangerous to the public,” said Benjamin Jendro, a Berlin police union spokesman.

The 2016 incident saw Berlin change its laws to make illegal car races a crime with sentences of up to 10 years.

Maxmilian Warshitsky, son of the crash victim, welcomed the verdict. Describing car races as “terrorism on the streets”, he said: “Murder is murder.”

Lawyers for the two men said they would appeal the latest verdict, meaning the final word has not been heard on the Ku’damm racers.