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Berlin court sentences street racers to life for murder in national first

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Berlin court sentences street racers to life for murder in national first
The crash debris in western Berlin. Photo: DPA
16:00 CET+01:00
A court in the German capital on Monday convicted two illegal street racers who caused a deadly high-speed car crash of murder and handed them life prison terms in a landmark ruling.

Hamdi H. and Marvin N. were each sentenced to maximum jail terms after the prosecution sought a conviction of murder rather than manslaughter. It was the first time in Germany that a court had found street racers guilty of murder. 

The prosecution argued that even if the men did not plan to kill anyone during their race on February 1st, 2016, they had accepted the likelihood of deadly consequences.

The murder verdict means they will spend a minimum 15 years behind bars and came as Germany is seeking to toughen its laws against illegal street racing.

The pair were racing through western Berlin, running a series of red lights, when Hamdi H. crashed at 160 kilometres per hour into a jeep near the city's landmark KaDeWe shopping centre.

The 69-year-old driver of the jeep was killed on the spot.

The men's defence lawyers had pleaded for a manslaughter conviction for Hamdi H. and sought a lesser charge of endangering street traffic for Marvin N.

During the trial, a psychologist described one of the defendants as "extremely overly self-confident" and said he was determined to "win in order to boost his ego", reported national news agency DPA.

Germany's transport ministry is mulling making such races punishable by up to 10 years' prison rather than treating them as administrative offences carrying a fine and a temporary suspension of the driver's licence.

In addition, convicted persons would routinely have their driver's licence revoked and vehicles impounded.

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