Europe

Six men jailed over Austrian temple attack

File picture of the six accused in court in Vienna (10 September 2010)
Image caption The six men were convicted over a gun attack in a Sikh temple last year

An Austrian court has convicted six Indian men in connection with a gun attack in a temple in Vienna in which a visiting preacher was killed.

Indian preacher Sant Ramanand, 57, was shot dead and more than a dozen others wounded, including another preacher.

The attack sparked violent protests in the state of Punjab in India.

The main suspect, 35, was sentenced to life in prison for murder and two counts of attempted murder, the Austrian Press Agency (APA) reported.

Four other men, who had been charged with being accomplices in attempted murder and with attempted severe assault on the worshippers, received 17- to 18-year prison sentences, APA reported.

A sixth man received six months in prison for attempted coercion.

Prosecutors say the men had planned the attack on the visiting preacher because of a religious dispute.

The men went on the rampage wielding a gun and knives during a temple service attended by about 150 people.

The attack sparked riots in several Indian cities last year where thousands took to the streets, clashing with police and setting fire to buildings, vehicles and a train.

Several people died in the clashes.

Both the preachers were from a breakaway Sikh sect which has a large following in parts of Punjab, northern India, and had travelled to Vienna to conduct a special service.

The men are expected to appeal against the verdicts, APA said.

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