“Revenge and political motives” drove a 54-year-old Tunisian immigrant to plot and execute the murder of an elderly Austrian couple over their alleged sympathy towards a far-right party, local police said.
The chilling double homicide took place in the Austrian town of Linz, and involved a 54-year-old man of Tunisian origin who had lived in the country since 1989, according to police.
In 2011, the man – who has not been named – was falsely sentenced for animal abuse following a complaint by a local activist of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPO), an incident which reportedly led to him being stigmatized by the local community.
The murder victims, identified as Hildegard Sch., 85, and her husband Siegfried, 87, lived in the same town and regularly ordered food from a grocery store run by the man’s wife.
The victims had a “friendly relationship” with the suspect and even supported his family financially, according to Kurier newspaper.
The couple’s son, however, was an active member of the FPO, which created false prejudice about the elderly couple’s political affiliations, said Andreas Pilsl, police chief for Upper Austria.
“There were classical motives such as revenge and retaliation, coupled by political motives,” Pilsl said, adding that the man felt discriminated against by Austria’s employment agency, politicians and especially the FPO party.
On the day of a scheduled delivery to the Linz family, the suspect allegedly hid a belt, a wooden club, a knife and a canister of gasoline under his apron, broadcaster ORF reported.
Investigators allege that he first strangled the 85-year-old woman, before attacking her husband with the knife and the club, killing him in the assault.
The suspect then reportedly set their kitchen on fire, with the victims’ bodies later being discovered by firefighters who were responding to an emergency alert.
Afterwards, the 54-year-old suspect turned himself in to the authorities. During questioning he reportedly admitted he had murdered the couple out of revenge, adding that he had even considered drowning himself in the Danube river before surrendering to police.
Pilsl said the victims had never been members of the FPO. “They had no links to the party, that is not true,” he said.