Man pleads guilty to ramming pedestrians in Australia

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A man who deliberately rammed a car into pedestrians in a busy Australian city street, killing one and injuring another 16 people, pleaded guilty on Friday to multiple charges including murder.

Saeed Noori drove his mother’s SUV into pedestrians on Dec. 21 last year on a sidewalk in downtown Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city.

The 33-year-old pleaded guilty in the Victoria state Supreme Court to the murder of 83-year-old man Antonios Crocaris, who died in a hospital eight days after he was struck by the car.

Noori faces a potential life sentence on that conviction. He also pleaded guilty to 11 counts of recklessly causing serious injury, which carries a potential maximum of 15 years in prison, and five counts of conduct endangering life, which carries a potential 10 years in prison.

His lawyers had previously told the court Noori suffers from schizophrenia and had likely not eaten or slept for days before the attack.

Noori came to Australia from Afghanistan as a refugee in 2004 and is now an Australian citizen.

He will return to court for a sentencing hearing on Feb. 12.

It was the second use of a car to assault pedestrians in downtown Melbourne in 2017. In January, six people were killed and more than 30 were injured when a car was driven up a pedestrian mall.

A Supreme Court jury last month convicted the driver James Gargasoulas on 33 charges including six counts of murder. Gargasoulas will be sentenced in January.

Police have not defined either as a terrorist attack, though other vehicle attacks around the world last year were allegedly linked to terrorism.

In October, a man drove a truck down a New York City bicycle path, killing eight people. The driver is accused of providing material support to the Islamic State group among other charges, including murder.

In August, 13 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded when a vehicle rammed into pedestrians in Barcelona, Spain. Two attacks in London last year were allegedly linked to Islamic extremists and another was seen as a reprisal attack outside a mosque, killing 13 people altogether.

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