Indebted pensioner robs bank to ‘pay his debts’

A 63-year-old Graz man wearing a mask carried out an armed bank robbery on Wednesday. When captured, he explained his motive was to 'pay his debts.'

Indebted pensioner robs bank to 'pay his debts'
Photo: Deniz Bank
The raid took place near Jakomini place in the center of Graz.  Four employees were working in the bank where the alleged robbery occurred.
The man walked into the bank, and demanded money from the staff at gunpoint.  They gave him some money, and he fled the bank.  The employees quickly raised the alarm, and within minutes, police arrested the alleged perpetrator a short distance away.
Upon questioning, the man claimed that he needed the money to pay off debts.
Police spokesman Fritz Grundnig of the State Police said "Immediately after the man fled, police officers found and arrested him in the Jakoministraße." 
No one was injured.  A mask, gun and the money was recovered at the scene.
Subsequent enquiries show that the man had robbed at least one bank before this occasion, and had spent many years in prison as a result, being released in 2008.
He found that living as an ex-con on a disability pension was not enough for him to survive.
He had therefore borrowed money from various friends and acquaintances, but his loans were due to be repaid on Wednesday, which was beyond his means.
Initially, he had tried to borrow money from various Austrian banks, but was denied, and was informed that all the Austrian banks were networked together, and each would likely also deny him a loan.
One of his friends advised him to tackle the Deniz Bank, which being Turkish, was probably not connected to the Austrian network.
Unfortunately, the suspect chose the wrong approach in seeking to withdraw money from the bank — at gunpoint — which led directly to his latest troubles.

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EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

Following the suicide of an Austrian doctor who received threats from Covid-19 anti-vaccination activists, the government has now launched a new campaign to help victims of online abuse.

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

The Austrian medical community was left in shock in July when Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a local doctor in Seewalchen am Attersee in Upper Austria, took her own life following months of online abuse.

Kellermayr, 36, had been targeted by anti-vaccination activists and Covid-19 conspiracy theorists for her out-spoken support of vaccines, and the abuse even included death threats. 

Her death prompted candlelight vigils and demonstrations in Vienna and the tragic story was picked up by news outlets around the world.

READ MORE: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

This led to calls for tighter laws against online bullying and the ability for perpetrators to be prosecuted in other EU countries – particularly as at least two of the people who are believed to have targeted Kellermayr are based in Germany, according to the Guardian.

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has even called for the creation of a special public prosecutor’s office to deal with “hate-on-the-net”, but this has been rejected by prosecutors and other political parties, as reported by ORF.

Instead, the Federal Justice Department has launched a new information campaign, website and hotline to help people dealing with online abuse.

FOR MEMBERS: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

What is in the new campaign?

Austria’s Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) said they have launched the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to inform victims about the support available.

Zadic said: “It is important to me that those affected know that they are not alone in this situation and that the judiciary supports them with free psychological and legal process support.”

“You don’t have to cope alone with the extraordinary burdens that criminal proceedings can entail, for example through confrontation with the perpetrators.”

READ ALSO: Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Part of the support package is the new website Hilfe bei Gewalt (Help with Violence), which details how to access help from the authorities, as well as secure free legal advice and representation from a lawyer.

The website states the service is for victims of bullying and/or hate online, defamation, stalking, terrorism, incitement, sexual violence and robbery.

The service is designed to be anonymous with options to contact the Justice Department by phone or via a chat box. The website also lists contact details for regional support services in all provinces across Austria. 

The free (kostenlos) hotline for Hilfe bei Gewalt is 0800 112 112.

Useful links

Hilfe bei Gewalt

Austrian Federal Justice Department