Four sentenced for neo-Nazi acts

Four young adults from Vorarlberg have been handed suspended sentences for violating the Prohibition Law - which aims to suppress any potential revival of Nazism in Austria.

Four sentenced for neo-Nazi acts
Austrian court room. File photo: APA

Two 18-year-old men, a 17-year-old woman, and a 19-year-old man were all given suspended sentences for taking pictures of themselves making Nazi salutes in public places and singing xenophobic songs.

“We need another Hitler so that the Jews know what’s coming for them,” the only female defendant was quoted as saying when she was arrested. She was sentenced to eight months probation and a €960 fine.

One youth reportedly said that Hitler was “the messiah, he freed the German people”.

The defendants admitted their actions but said that they were very drunk at the time. They have sworn never to repeat them and have said they are willing to do vocational training and look for jobs.

The judge imposed suspended sentences of between eight months and a year. Two of the defendants have been ordered to serve four months in prison, and three were also convicted of burglary, theft, and injury.

Vienna Mayor Michael Häupl has called for a right-wing group calling themselves The Identity Movement to be banned under the Prohibition Act (Verbotsgesetz). 

The law prohibits Holocaust denial as well as the deliberate belittlement of any Nazi atrocities. 

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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.