Dubbed the 'Laser Man' in Swedish media, 64-year-old John Ausonius was jailed in Sweden in 1992 after he went on a six-month shooting spree which targeted people of immigrant background. He was convicted of murdering one person and left several of his other ten victims with debilitating injuries for life.
He was extradited to Germany earlier this year as the number-one suspect in the investigation into the murder of 68-year-old Blanka Zmigrod in Frankfurt in 1992.
Zmigrod, who according to Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet had been a survivor of five concentration camps, was shot in the head walking home from the restaurant at which she worked as a cloakroom attendant.
Ausonius, on the run from the Swedish police at the time, had reportedly argued with Zmigrod before the murder, accusing her of stealing an electronic calendar from his pocket.
He denies the charges, with his lawyer, Joachim Bremer, telling Swedish news agency TT ahead of the trial: “There is no new evidence. No DNA. This process is based entirely on circumstantial evidence. We have said that it should not be allowed to go ahead.”
Ausonius appeared in the Frankfurt court on Wednesday morning for the start of the trial, which is set to take place on seven scheduled court dates between now and January 21st.
German and Swedish media were present in court, including Reuters, news agencies DPA and TT, Swedish broadcasters SVT and TV4 and the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
TT reports that Ausonius has asked for the interrogation to be conducted in German. He addressed the court on Wednesday morning to outline his “serious and shocking” criminal history, also including gambling problems and a bank robbery, and asked to take a lie detector test.
Ausonius was questioned once by German police at Sweden's Kumla Prison in 1996, but nothing came of it until three years ago when officers returned to hold further interviews.
Ammunition from a 6.35mm caliber pistol was found at the scene of Zmigrod's murder, the same as Ausonius' weapon. She was shot from close range by a hooded man on a bicycle, a modus operandi similar to how Ausonius attacked his victims in Sweden.
Ausonius was the son of a Swiss father and a German mother who had emigrated to Sweden. He was bullied at school for his dark hair and eyes and as an adult died his hair blond, wore blue contact lenses and changed his name from Wolfgang Alexander Zaugg.
His crimes are believed to have served in part as inspiration for copycat far-right killers such as Peter Mangs in Malmö and Norwegian white supremacist Anders Breivik.
The trial continues.