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Egyptian pizza fraudster - four years in jail

The 41-year-old who set a pizzeria on fire in Hart near Graz (Stiria) has been sentenced to four years in prison. The accused protested his innocence to the very end.

The man who was born in Egypt was charged with arson and attempted treachery. He is suspected of having set the pizza-stand on fire to claim money from the insurance because his business was struggling and a sale had failed.

In setting the fire, he severely burnt his hands and upper-body and spent 19 day in coma.

On the first day of the trial back in August, the defendant denied his involvement and told the court he was threatened and robbed and that two unknown individuals had then used petrol to set the premise on fire.

The accused also told the court on Wednesday that the fire was an act of revenge for dismissing a waitress.

He once again dismissed the allegations that he owned money to the tax office. Defence said: "He's from Egypt, and there, there is no accountancy. So of course, everyone looks and sees that he doesn't record turnover so he doesn't pay tax."

The fact that the 41-year-old was threatened was confirmed indirectly by a witness recently when the court heard the pizza-maker had got into a row with the wrong people who said: "You're hut is going to burn."

Another witness told the court that once, two southerners who clearly wanted to buy the pizza-stand had driven up and left green with anger because the Egyptian wasn't there.

The court didn't believe this and the defendant was found guilty. He was sentenced to four years in prison but immediately appealed for nullity, and the judgement is therefore final.

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