German tourists shot at with crossbow

A 31-year-old man has appeared in court, charged with shooting at two German tourists with a crossbow in Vienna last summer.

German tourists shot at with crossbow
Vienna's 2nd district. Photo: Wikipedia

The Germans, both 17, told the court that they were on a sightseeing tour, and were returning to their hotel in the 2nd district when they saw the man standing at the window of his second floor apartment, holding a crossbow in his hand.

He called out to them “hello!”, and then took aim and pulled the trigger.

The youths heard a "pop" and ran and hid out of sight against a wall. They recalled how with beating hearts, crouching down low, they made their way back to hotel, and called the police. Police found an arrow on the street, very close to where the teenagers had been standing.

The 31-year-old said after his arrest that he had just wanted to “scare” the boys and “make them run”. However, according to the court psychiatrist the man suffers from schizoaffective disorder and was not capable of realising the severity of his actions. Experts said he didn’t seem to know he was mentally ill, and was not taking medication.

Since he could not be held criminally responsible, the man could not be convicted for attempted serious bodily harm but was admitted to a psychiatric institution, for a five-year probationary period.

Since his arrest the man has been taking medication and his condition has improved significantly.

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Austrian people smuggler jailed over deaths of Syrians in minivan

An Austrian court on Monday sentenced a people smuggler to seven years in prison over the deaths of two Syrians who suffocated in the crammed minivan he was driving, Austria's news agency reported.

Austrian people smuggler jailed over deaths of Syrians in minivan

The bodies of the two men were discovered last October when Austrian authorities stopped and searched a van at the border with Hungary.

Thirty people in total were crammed in the vehicle, whose driver fled the scene but was later arrested in Latvia and extradited.

The 19-year-old Latvian was found guilty of people smuggling and causing fatal injuries, but was not found guilty of murder, APA reported.

READ MORE: Austrian police warn public about new ‘fake cops’ scam

He said he would accept the verdict, but the prosecution can still appeal it, APA said.

A court spokeswoman could not immediately be reached by AFP. 

Austria’s interior ministry announced in May that police had smashed a group believed to have smuggled tens of thousands of mostly Syrians, including the two found suffocated, from Hungary to Austria.

A total of 205 people suspected to be linked to the group have been arrested in central and eastern Europe, the ministry said.

Those smuggled, including children, were trying to reach western European countries, including Germany and France.

The October discovery of the dead men recalled a dire event in August 2015 when 71 people from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan suffocated in the back of an air-tight van where they had been hidden by people smugglers.

The bodies, including those of three children and a baby, were discovered in Austria but they had died while still on the other side of the border.

Almost four years later, the Hungarian courts sentenced their smugglers to life imprisonment.

The emotion aroused by that tragedy triggered a brief opening of the borders to hundreds of thousands of people wishing to reach Western Europe.

But Austria and other European countries have since fortified borders to stop people smuggling.