Taxi driver sentenced for sexual abuse

A Viennese taxi driver on trial for allegedly sexually abusing two teenagers has been accused by a third woman, who recognised him as she sat in on the court proceedings in May. He was sentenced on Wednesday to six years in prison.

Taxi driver sentenced for sexual abuse
Taxi sign. Photo: APA/Hochmuth

A friend of the woman told her that a man was on trial for attacking two young women who had been passengers in his taxi – and as she had been through a similar experience she decided to sit in the public gallery of the courtroom. When she realised it was the same man she filed a complaint with the public prosecutor.

All three women claimed to have been attacked while taking a taxi from the U4 nightclub, after having drunk too much alcohol. The incidents happened in September 2011 and August 2013.

The 59-year-old taxi driver, described as a family man with four children, is accused of having taken advantage of the young women’s intoxicated state. The prosecution says that he forced the girls into sexual acts in the taxi and that they were not in a position to be able to fight him off.

The court found that there was sufficient evidence to enter a guilty plea.  He was sentenced to six years in prison, and has to pay the two victims a total of €18,400 as compensation for pain and suffering.

In addition, there is a third case pending, based on the complaint of the possible additional victim, who recognized the man while he was in court.

Evidence considered by the court included DNA samples, collected from one of the victims soon after the event.  The accused claimed that the 18-year-old girl had consensual sex with him, despite her intoxication.


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.