The Munich regional court found the two men, who were aged 18 and 19 at the time of the attack, guilty of attempted murder, sentencing the younger man to seven years and his older cousin to five years’ jail.
Together with another man, who has already been sentenced, the pair knocked down a 23-year-old carpenter in July 1996 after he took them to task for smoking in the station, where it was forbidden.
The younger man then stabbed the victim with a knife 10 times in the upper body, including one thrust aimed right at the man’s heart, which was stopped only by his wallet.
The victim fell onto the train track and had to use his last strength to climb back onto the platform. He had to undergo several operations and was in a critical condition for weeks. He remains limited to 60 percent of normal movement.
Both the perpetrators sentenced Tuesday were Albanian Kosovars who had fled their homeland, where Albanians were facing persecution by Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.
One was arrested in Switzerland in December 2008 and the other in autumn of 2009 in Italy.
The sentencing follows other high-profile attacks on Munich public transport that have caused deep public anguish in the Bavarian capital. Last October, Dominik Brunner, 50, was beaten to death after stepping in to protect a group of youths from a gang of older bullies who were demanding money.
And in December of 2007, two young men attacked and nearly killed a retired teacher after he also admonished them for smoking. They received 12 years and eight-and-a-half years’ prison respectively.
The court’s senior judge said the present case showed violence on Munich’s public transport was nothing new.
“The case shows that 13 years ago, there was violence in the U-Bahn, just as it makes headlines today,” the judge said.
The other attacker was given three years in a juvenile prison but was released after just one year.
In the trial against cousins, he refused to give testimony supporting the cousins’ claim they had been responding to the xenophobic aggression of the carpenter they attacked.