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Neuschwanstein Castle: US man admits rape and murder after women pushed down ravine near German landmark

A US man has admitted the rape and murder of a woman who was pushed down a ravine near a famous German landmark, used as the inspiration for the famous Disney Castle.

The 31-year-old made the admission at the start of his trial in Kempten, southern Germany.

He allegedly met two American women, aged 21 and 22, near Neuschwanstein Castle, one of Germany's best-known attractions, in June last year.

Prosecutors say the trio were close to the Marienbruecke, a bridge over a gorge that offers views of the castle.

After luring them away from the trail, he is said to have forced the younger woman to the ground and tried to undress her.

When the other woman tried to intervene, the suspect allegedly pushed her down a steep slope.

She fell about 165 feet (50 metres) but survived.

The man is then said to have strangled the younger woman until she passed out, before raping her.

Prosecutors say she was killed when she was also pushed down the slope.

Neuschwanstein, in Bavaria, southern Germany, is said to have been the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, California, and the Cinderella Castle in Disneyworld, Florida.

The defendant, whose name cannot be disclosed under German law, is also charged with attempted murder and possessing child pornography.

A laptop and phones belonging to him allegedly contained child sexual abuse material.

Defence lawyer Philip Mueller said his client, who covered his face as he entered court, had "committed an unfathomable crime".

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In Germany, defendants do not formally enter pleas to charges, but the man confirmed what his lawyer said and did not answer questions.

A verdict is expected to be announced in mid-March at the earliest and the man could face life in prison.