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Australian driver charged with murder after pedestrian dies

January 2, 2018

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A man accused of deliberately ramming a car into pedestrians in a busy Australian city street was charged with murder on Tuesday after one of the injured died.

Saeed Noori had been charged with 18 counts of attempted murder and one count of conduct endangering life alleging he drove an SUV into pedestrians on Dec. 21 on a sidewalk in downtown Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city.

An attempted murder charge was upgraded in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to murder because an 83-year-old man died after eight days in hospital. Another three victims remain in hospital. Murder carries a potential maximum sentence of life imprisonment, while attempted murder carries a 25-year sentence.

Noori, 32, has been refused bail and has yet to plea to any charge. An Afghan refugee with Australian citizenship, he has a history of drug abuse and mental health issues, and his lawyers have said Noori’s mental impairment and fitness to plea would be explored as part of his defense.

It was the second alleged 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. The defendant in that case pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges last month, and his defense lawyers have also questioned his mental health and fitness to enter a plea.

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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