Austrian man jailed for gruesome killing of girlfriend

The victim was known to have complained about her boyfriend's "pathological jealousy" just days before the attack. PHOTO: AFP

VIENNA (AFP) - An Austrian man was sentenced to life imprisonment on Friday (Oct 1) in Vienna for the brutal murder of his girlfriend in March, in a case that shocked the country.

The 47-year-old will be sent to an institution for mentally abnormal criminals.

The 35-year-old victim was beaten, strangled and then set on fire in a tobacconist's store she ran in Vienna.

The murderer showed little remorse over the course of the trial, at one point saying: "She brought me that far, I didn't want to do it."

Prosecutors pointed to the fact that the murderer drove to the site with bottles of petrol in his car as proof the crime was premeditated.

The victim was known to have complained about her boyfriend's "pathological jealousy" just days before the attack.

She was rescued alive from the burning store by two passersby who noticed the fire and rammed the door open with a shopping trolley from a neighbouring supermarket.

The victim was in intensive care for four weeks before succumbing to her injuries.

According to medical expert Christian Reiter, 75 per cent of the woman's skin had severe burns.

"There's virtually no chance that someone could survive this," Reiter told the court, adding that the woman would have been in "excruciating pain" until she died.

A court-appointed psychiatrist described the murderer as "totally devoid of empathy" and exhibiting a "pronounced narcissism".

During the trial, the court had been played a harrowing video of the crime, reconstructed from the shop's CCTV camera.

The victim's family, who had been in attendance, left while the video was played.

The killing is just one of several high profile murders of women and girls, often at the hands of partners or ex-partners, which have led to heightened debate on how to combat femicide.

The government has pledged several measures to try to address the problem, including increased funding for organisations helping victims of violence.

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