A court in Germany has given life in prison to a man who shot a petrol station worker dead because he had asked him to wear a COVID face mask.
The court in Bad Kreuznach, Rhineland-Palatinate state, western Germany sentenced the killer – named only as Mario N., 50 – to life behind bars after finding him guilty of murder and firearms offences.
Victim Alex W., 20, had found temporary work at the petrol station in Bad Kreuznach and was behind the counter when IT expert Mario walked in at around 7.50pm on 18th September last year.
Alex asked Mario to use a face mask, in line with COVID-19 regulations.
But Mario left, returned an hour later, and shot Alex in the forehead. The young man was killed instantly.
Presiding judge Dr Claudia Buech-Schmitz said of the defendant: “From the chamber’s point of view, he acted insidiously and for base reasons.”
Regarding his motive, she said: “He found it inappropriate that a ‘petrol station boy’ – as he called Alex W. during his interrogation – disciplined him.”
Mario had reportedly said in a video message to his brother-in-law: “I shot the *rsehole, I did it.”
The public prosecutor’s office had demanded life imprisonment for the defendant, while the defence had pleaded manslaughter.
But Dr Buech-Schmitz believes the crime was politically motivated.
The judge believes that Mario took out his “long-standing dissatisfaction” with coronavirus measures on the unsuspecting, defenceless victim.
Mario himself claimed: “I blamed the corona measures for my father’s suicide, my mother’s death.”
Mario’s father – a cancer patient – had shot himself in early 2020 and had tried to kill Mario’s mother as well.
Mario’s mother had spent a long stint in hospital but had been unable to receive visitors because of the pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic had also prevented Mario from attending his father’s funeral.
On the evening of the crime, Mario had consumed a large amount of alcohol and had asked Alex if he could be exempt from wearing a mask in the store because of his asthma.
Astonishingly, Mario confessed: “If he hadn’t responded to my request like that, if he hadn’t lost himself in that commanding tone, the crime could have been avoided.”
He said he had felt “treated like an idiot” by the young man.
It is not clear if the ruling can be appealed.