Berlin boy racer convicted of murder breaks silence | News | DW | 05.03.2019
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Berlin boy racer convicted of murder breaks silence

Three years after an illegal car race in downtown Berlin ended in tragedy, one of the perpetrators has broken his silence during a murder retrial. Marvin N. has said the death of a man will "always haunt him."

One of two men sentenced to life imprisonment after a 2016 illegal car race along Berlin's famous Kurfürstendamm boulevard that resulted in the death of a 69-year-old man broke his silence at the retrial on Tuesday.

The first murder verdicts in a German car-racing trial were overturned last year by the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), which ruled there had been insufficient evidence of an intention to kill. 

What was in the statement?

The defense counsel for Marvin N. told a regional court in Berlin that his client: 

  • had used the time in prison "to reflect on his actions;"
  • on the night of the incident, had "completely overestimated himself;"  
  • "defined himself by his vehicle," and had "presumed no one would get hurt;"
  • was still "tormented by the death of a person," which will "always haunt him." 

Read more: Illegal street racing: Cars as lethal weapons

Watch video 00:34

Murder sentence in German car racing trial

What happened during the 2017 trial?

Marvin N. was found to have initially refused to participate in the illegal race. He had stopped at two red lights and had shown remorse. The judge said Marvin N. was "less guilty" than his co-defendant, Hamdi H., whose car slammed into the vehicle driven by the victim. The retired doctor and father-of-two was killed and his car hurled 72 meters along the street. The judge said German law required him to sentence both culprits to life in prison. 

Read more: Berlin police struggle with spate of illegal car races 

The judge described Hamid H. as a 'narcissist' (DW/H. Kiesel)

The judge described Hamid H. as a 'narcissist'

The original verdict: Judge Ralph Ehestädt said the two men had shown "limited willful intent" in staging a deadly late-night race that saw them reach speeds of up to 170 kilometers an hour (106.5 mph). They ran several red lights along Berlin's famous Kurfürstendamm boulevard. Ehestädt said that even though the defendants had not intended to kill the victim, they had accepted that people might well be killed by their behavior and thus were guilty of murder. 

'Unjust judgement'

Defense lawyers, who had sought verdicts of manslaughter for then 28-year-old Hamdi H. and reckless driving for Marvin N., called the court's judgement unjust. The BGH reversed the ruling in 2018 and ordered a new trial.

A forensic expert likened the scene of the incident to a 'battlefield' (picture-alliance/dpa/B. Pedersen)

A forensic expert likened the scene of the incident to a 'battlefield'

Berlin battlefield

Hamdi H.'s car slammed into the vehicle driven by the victim — a widower, retired doctor and father-of-two — killing him and hurling his car 72 meters along the street. Bits of wreckage were strewn everywhere. The judge said a forensic expert who had testified at the trial had described the scene of the accident as "a field of rubble" that resembled a "battlefield." The two defendants and a passenger in Marvin N.'s car were only slightly injured in the accident. 

kw/rt (AFP, dpa)

Editor's note: DW follows the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and urges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases.

Watch video 12:06

Reporter - German police take on illegal car racing

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