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Josef Branis: Austrian Man Pleads Guilty To Killing Relatives Over Rent

01/27/09 04:08 PM ET   AP

Handcuffs

VIENNA, Austria — An Austrian court sentenced a man to 20 years in prison Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to murdering his sister, brother and their spouses in a long-running family feud over rent.

The court in the eastern town of Korneuburg also sentenced Josef Branis's nephew to 12 years in prison for conspiracy to murder. The 45-year-old, who was not identified, had pleaded not guilty.

The quadruple homicide was the second major crime in several years to draw unwanted international attention to the Vienna suburb of Strasshof. Three years ago, a young Austrian woman escaped after being held captive there for years.

Branis, 67, told the court earlier Tuesday that he did not regret fatally shooting his four relatives in two houses in Strasshof in July after being evicted from his sister's Vienna apartment.

He was arrested in August after weeks on the run. He told authorities he resented that his sister had insulted him during arguments over a rent increase and that his hatred had been building for years.

Strasshof is a semi-rural community where a young woman, Natascha Kampusch, was held in a cramped underground cell for more than eight years until her escape in August 2006 at the age of 18. The man she accused of abusing her, Wolfgang Priklopil, committed suicide hours after she fled.

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Filed by Hanna Ingber Win  |