Ernst Karl

Ernst Karl (born August 1945 - June 15, 2001 in Krems an der Donau) was an Austrian police officer who was convicted of murdering two burglars. While in prison, he also killed a convicted murderer and from then on he was designated as one of Austria's most dangerous offenders. In 2001, he died on a belt bed in Stein Prison.


On the night of April 15, 1968, Karl shot two burglars, Walter P. and Johann Kihsl in the garage of the Tivoli department store in Vienna-Meidling. He claimed to have watched the two men enter the garage during his patrol duty, after which, he followed the two to confront them. However, when they noticed him, Karl claimed that they shot him and that he only returned fire in self-defense.

However, since the two men were killed with seven shots from close range, including headshots, the investigators did not believe that the shooting was in self-defense, and thus interrogated Karl. Since two friends of Kihsl testified that he had been to a policeman who had given him a gun and betrayed the most appropriate time for a robbery, a comparison was carried out, where they identified Ernst Karl. Only after a long and stubborn interrogation Karl confessed to have intentionally shot the burglars as they blackmailed him. He had known them for some time and they extorted him for his alleged homosexuality. At the time, this was a criminal offence for which the penalty was imprisonment for one to five years in Austria. He paid them large amounts of hush money several times. However, as they demanded more and Karl had now made himself a criminal by giving them money, he proposed to them a burglary at the Tivoli. He promised to stand outside in uniform, because he was scheduled to work that night. After the men entered the garage, he followed them, persuaded them to turn around and killed them. After shooting them in the head, he took the gun he had given Kihsl, which he knew was carrying with him, firing a shot with it to bolster the self-defense narrative later.

Karl was sentenced to life imprisonment for the two murders and transferred to the Stein Prison. There, on January 15, 1974, he strangled 41-year-old convicted murderer Johann Rogatsch with his bare hands in the detention center's recreation room. He claimed to have acted in self-defense, because Rogatsch wanted to force him into a prison outbreak and then attacked. After this incident, he was transferred to a special detention center housing only the most dangerous criminals of the prison, which at the time held only seven inmates.


Ernst Karl began to suffer more and more from schizophrenia and was plagued by psychotic breaks. He believed he was being shot at by the other cells, being followed by criminal gangs and still working as a police officer. Because of this, he was treated psychiatrically and medically. On June 14, 2001, another psychotic episode occurred, devastating his cell and breaking his nose. The on-duty in-house doctor, Dr. Stippler, then administered biperiden on him and ordered for him to be accommodated in a specially secured room and protect him from possible self-injury at the hospital's belt bed. Although judicial officials testified to having carried out checks every half hour, in which Ernst Karl slept peacefully, he was dead the next morning. He died as a result of an ileus and was pronounced dead at 7:55. The photos of the pale and lifeless prisoner to the bed, which had run out of blood from his nose and mouth, came to the public's attention and together with the fact that belt beds were banned for the detention of prisoners since 1994, caused fierce public protests.

Legal work-upEdit

As a result, it turned out that the bed was not a belt bed as a special security measure according to Art. 103 of the Penal Code according to the legislation before 1994, but a sickbed to which Karl was put for self-protection as part of a medical psychiatric experiment as a treatment measure to the prisoner under the same conditions as other free prisoners. Such a stay in a medical bed with possibility of fixation, therefore, if it is necessary from a medical-psychiatric point of view must also take place in a prison. It is therefore also ordered by the prison doctor as a medical measure.[1]

The public prosecutor's office took place because of negligent homicide under particularly dangerous circumstances on investigators against suspected officials and doctors.[2] The case was examined by the Judiciary of Austria. In the opinion of expert Dr. Wolfgang Denk, Specialist in Forensic Medicine, dated April 8, 2002, stated: "... Ernst K. died as a result of a mechanical intestinal obstruction in the area of pre-existing adhesions in the abdominal cavity due to cardiovascular failure of a natural death... seat belts… is not casually related to the appearance of the intestinal paralysis." The Krems an der Donau prosecution stopped on May 15, 2002, the previous surveys, because the fixation of the prisoner Ernst K. in the hospital bed offered from a medical point of view and the occurrence of death was due to a natural cause.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Prison in Austria (2025/AB)" (in German). 8 September 2004. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  2. ^ "New allegations and shocking pictures" (in German). DerStandard. 13 July 2004. Retrieved 27 November 2015.

External linksEdit