Six men charged over Vienna Sikh temple shooting

VIENNA Tue May 18, 2010 11:08pm IST

A police officer guards the entrance to the house where a Sikh temple is located in Vienna May 24, 2009. Austrian authorities have charged six men over the attack in which a visiting preacher died and which triggered deadly riots in India. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/Files

A police officer guards the entrance to the house where a Sikh temple is located in Vienna May 24, 2009. Austrian authorities have charged six men over the attack in which a visiting preacher died and which triggered deadly riots in India.

Credit: Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader/Files

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VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian authorities have charged six men over an attack in a Sikh temple a year ago in which a visiting preacher died, dozens of worshippers were wounded and which triggered deadly riots in India.

A 35-year-old man has been charged with murder and two counts of attempted murder, a Vienna court spokesman said. The five others are charged with being accomplices in attempted murder and with attempted severe assault on the worshippers.

They have two weeks to appeal the charges.

Prosecutors say the men had planned the attack on the visiting preacher because of a religious dispute. They say the men, all Sikhs, went on a rampage wielding a gun and knives during a temple service attended by around 150 people.

Such violence is extremely rare in the Austrian capital.

The five men accused of being accomplices will plead not guilty to the charges, their defence lawyer told Austrian state broadcaster ORF.

The main accused man has said he is suffering from memory loss after being subdued by worshippers wielding frying pans, a rolling pin and a microphone stand. The defence said it would submit a psychiatric assessment to the court.

The attack sparked riots in several Indian cities where thousands took to the streets, setting fire to cars and trains and battling with security forces. Several people died in the clashes.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall, editing by Tim Pearce)

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