Three US teenagers who dropped heavy stones from a bridge onto passing vehicles below with deadly consequences were sentenced to between seven and eight-and-a-half years' detention by a German court Friday.
Two drivers were killed when the rocks dropped from a motorway bridge by the teenagers, now aged between 15 and 18, smashed the windshields of their cars. Another five people were injured, one of them critically.
The three defendants, who were convicted Friday of murder and attempted murder, were the sons of US servicemen stationed at a military base in Darmstadt in central Germany.
The youngest, who was 14 at the time, was sentenced to seven years in a youth detention center, the two others, aged 17 and 18 at the time, to eight and eight-and-a-half years.
The youths admitted dropping the stones onto passing traffic from the pedestrian bridge over the highway between Heidelberg and Frankfurt at the end of February.
A 41-year-old mother of two young children was killed outright when a 5.5 kilogram (12 pound) paving stone crashed through the windshield of her car and hit her head.
Shortly afterwards, a 20-year-old student died when a piece of sandstone weighing more than eight kilograms (nearly 18 pounds) crashed through the windshield of her car and struck her head and body.
Her grandmother, also in the car at the time, was critically injured but survived.
Presiding judge Bertram Schmitt said the three had "played a kind of Russian roulette", indifferent to the death their acts could bring about.
They had been motivated by "boredom and hunger for sensation", Schmitt said. Nothing in their personality structure or upbringing could explain what they did, the judge said.
The prosecution had called for the maximum possible sentence of 10 years' imprisonment, as did counsel for the parents of the young woman who was killed.
Judge Schmitt said the sentences passed sought "on the one hand to make clear the gravity of the acts, and on the other side not to lose all sense of measure with the defendants".
The defense had pleaded for them to be convicted of the lesser charge of causing death by negligence, but the court sustained the charges, with the characterizations of malicious intent and endangering public safety.
According to the defense, the youths had shown genuine remorse during their trial, which was closed to the public. The defendants apologized for to the relatives of the victims -- DARMSTADT (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)