German court convicts murderer from Sweden in 1992 killing of Holocaust survivor


BERLIN (JTA) — A convicted murderer from Sweden has been found guilty of killing a Holocaust survivor in Germany 26 years ago.

On Wednesday, the Frankfurt District Court handed down its verdict against John Ausonius for the 1992 shooting death of 68-year-old Blanka Zmigrod and sentenced him to life in prison. A life sentence in Germany is 14 years.

The court heard nine days of hearings in a trial that began in December.

Ausonius already is serving a life sentence  in Sweden for a list of violent crimes that includes the murder of an immigrant, an Iranian national, and the attempted murder of 11 immigrants that reportedly also were associated with robberies. He has been in jail in Sweden since 1992.

Born as Wolfgang Alexander Zaugg, Ausonius, 64, was dubbed  “Laser Man” by Swedish media because he used a rifle equipped with a laser sight.

Zmigrod was a cloakroom attendant at a Frankfurt restaurant in February 1992 when Ausonius reportedly accused her of stealing a Casio electronic diary in which he allegedly had stored contact information for a planned escape to South Africa. When she refused to open her handbag, he allegedly told her he would see her again. According to news reports, she was shot at close range about 36 hours later. The ammunition used was the same as that used in the shootings of the immigrants, investigators said.

An investigation of the Zmigrod murder was dropped in 1996, but was relaunched in 2014 after the revelation that German police had failed to recognize patterns in a decade-long series of anti-foreigner murders later attributed to a far-right cell, the National Socialist Union.

A key witness in the current case was Zmigrod’s former employer, who said a man in a video provided by Swedish police closely resembled the man who had threatened Zmigrod.

Early in the trial, Ausonius had described his checkered past, marked by everything from petty crimes to murder. But, according to news reports, in his final statement Wednesday he said he had “nothing to hide about his stay in Germany.”

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