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Wednesday, March 10, 1999 Published at 13:29 GMT

World: Europe

Racist bomber gets life

Fuchs blew off his hands with his own bomb

An Austrian recluse who launched a racist bombing campaign that killed four people and maimed several more has been sentenced to life.

Franz Fuchs, 49, was found guilty of nearly 30 bomb attacks. Most of the devices were concealed in letters.

The BBC's Katya Adler: Fuchs was banished from his own trial
Fuchs was excluded from most of his trial after bellowing racist slogans every time he appeared in the dock. He was not in court to hear the verdict.

The judge had made a final attempt to have him present on Tuesday, but he was removed after shouting: "Long live the Germanic people."

Fuch's letter bomb campaign terrorised Austria for four years. In the worst attack four gypsies were killed in 1995 by a booby trap device.

Another 12 people were injured. His most prominent victim, former Vienna mayor Helmut Zilk, told the court how a letter-bomb went off in his hands at his home in December 1993.

Mr Zilk, apparently targeted for his support of foreigners' causes during his years as mayor, lost two fingers.

Hands blown off

Fuchs, whose hands were blown off by a home-made bomb during his arrest in 1997, will serve his sentence in a prison for the mentally disturbed.

The unemployed technician claims to be a member of the obscure Bavarian Liberation Army, which he says wants to reunite German-speaking peoples in Bavaria, the Alps and along the river Danube within borders that existed between the sixth and twelfth centuries.

But the court in the southern city of Graz ruled that the bomber acted alone. Prosecutors said the group existed only in his mind.

Fuchs was arrested in his home town of Gralla, 240 km southwest of Vienna, after two women told police they thought they were being stalked. A search of his home turned up five pipe bombs and a booby-trap device.

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