‘Laser man’ killer jailed for murder of Holocaust survivor

Racist sniper John Ausonius guilty of killing Blanka Zmigrod in 1992

John Ausonius
(Image credit: Arne Dedert/AFP/Getty Images)

A Swedish murderer who attacked immigrants with a laser-scoped rifle has been given an additional life sentence for the murder of a Holocaust survivor in 1992.

John Ausonius, 64, maintained his innocence, but was convicted of murdering Blanka Zmigrod by a Frankfurt court today. He could be transferred to a German prison to serve the new sentence, which will likely see him die behind bars, Deutsche Welle reports.

Ausonius was dubbed the “laser man” in the Swedish press for the red laser sight he used to pinpoint his victims during a racially motivated shooting spree in 1991 and 1992.

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Beginning in August 1991, Ausonius - a former soldier with an intense hatred of foreigners - shot five immigrants in Uppsala, near Stockholm, over a five month period. The fifth victim, Iranian student Jimmy Ranjbar, died after being shot in the head on 8 November 1991.

Following the fatal attack on Ranjbar, Ausonius relocated to neighbouring Stockholm, where he shot another four people in eight days. His victims included Africans, South Americans, Middle Easterners and a Greek.

Immigrant communities in both cities were gripped by fear, exacerbated by survivors’ terrifying accounts of seeing a red light hovering against their skin seconds before being shot, OZY reports.

Ausonius, who was also responsible for a string of bank robberies, fled to Frankfurt, Germany, in February 1992.

It was here that he clashed with Blanka Zmigrod, an 68-year-old Holocaust survivor, over an electronic notebook which had allegedly disappeared from Ausonius’ coat in the restaurant cloakroom where she worked as an attendant.

Eyewitnesses to the argument reported Ausonius had told Zmigrod they'd would be "seeing each other again”, Deutsche Welle reports. “Thirty-six hours later she was dead,” shot in broad daylight as she left work.

Ausonius was caught by police after returning to Sweden and carrying out another bank robbery. In 1995, he was jailed for life for the murder of Ranjbar and the attempted murder of his eight other victims.

German police had long suspected that Ausonius was also responsible for Zmigrod’s death, but the lack of witnesses to the shooting stymied prosecutors until 2014, when the case was re-opened as part of a wider investigation into unsolved hate crimes.

In 2009 and 2010, Malmo was the scene of copycat killing spree in which two migrants were shot dead and another 13 injured by racist gunman Peter Mangs, who also chose his victims based on their “foreign” appearance.

Mangs, who was said to have been fascinated by Ausonius, was sentenced to life in prison in 2012.

Ausonius is also believed to have inspired Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, who shot 77 people in 2011 in an attack motivated by far-right extremism.

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