Wuerzburg, Germany - A truck driver accused of a five-year indiscriminate shooting spree on German motorways to teach other road users a “lesson” went on trial on Monday.
Prosecutors say the man, identified as Michael Harry K., was a “frustrated loner” and claim he fired more than 700 times at trucks and cars, leaving several people injured, until his arrest in June 2013.
The 58-year-old faces five counts of attempted murder, as well as grievous bodily harm and other charges and could face a lengthy prison term if found guilty by the district court in the Bavarian city of Wuerzburg.
The accused, who lives in western Germany, had wanted to teach other truck drivers a “lesson” over their road behaviour, local DPA news agency quoted senior prosecutor Boris Raufeisen as saying at the trial's opening.
He claimed that the defendant was aware he could cause “serious accidents with considerable consequences to the point of death of other road users”.
The defence has rejected the attempted murder charge.
He said during the investigation that he didn't want to hurt anyone and only aimed at a truck's load or freight hold.
He also said he had acted after once nearly being pushed off the road by a car transporter.
In 2009, the year after the alleged shootings began, a businesswoman in a car was critically injured after being struck in the neck and crashing into the motorway barrier at high speed.
The investigation into the motorway shootings, which began at the latest in 2008, was complicated because the drivers of the vehicles hit often didn't notice until arriving at their destination.
Police eventually made an arrest after setting up a technical surveillance system on stretches of motorway to register licence plates.