Austrian cops can nab suspects in Italy

A new agreement between the governments of Italy and Austria was announced Friday in Vienna, allowing Austrian police in pursuit of criminals to more easily operate across the border in Italy.

Austrian cops can nab suspects in Italy
File photo: APA (Webpic)

Previously, when Austrian police were in hot pursuit of criminal suspects heading into Italy, Austrian police had to cease the pursuit after 10 km on state highways and 20 km on high-speed motorways.  

Pursuits in such cases would then need to be handed over to local authorities, according to a report in the Austrian daily, Der Standard.

Additionally, police pursuit helicopters may now fly freely into Italian air space, subject to usual air traffic control regulations.

After the agreement takes effect, Austrian police can conduct a cross-border pursuit with a simple registration to Italian judicial authorities, a process which eliminates the previous bureaucratic procedure.

The same mechanism is in place in reverse, allowing the Italian Carabinieri to conduct their own pursuits into Austrian territory.  The conclusion of this agreement means that Austria now has "hot pursuit" agreements with all its eight neighbouring countries, as Italy was the last to conclude such an agreement.

The agreement was signed by Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Miki-Leitner, and her Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano on Thursday.

"The signing of the agreement is an important step for the further development of police cooperation and to increase security in our countries," said Mikl-Leitner.

"Not least because in our geographical neighborhood, Italy is an important partner in the fight against crime. When a bank robber escapes after a robbery in Carinthia to Italy, Austrian police officers can stay on his heels even in Italian territory." 

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Austrian Josef Fritzl to be released to ‘normal prison’

Josef Fritzl, was imprisoned in 2009 for the rape and unlawful detention of his daughter in the Austrian village of Amstetten, has been released from psychiatric detention on Wednesday and is set to serve in a standard prison. Fritzl is eligible for early release in 2023.

Austrian Josef Fritzl to be released to ‘normal prison’

When making the decision, the Krems Regional Court held that Fritzl no longer posed any danger and could therefore be kept in a standard jail. 

Fritzl, who changed his name to Mayrhoff while in prison, was jailed in 2009 for several crimes including the unlawful imprisonment and rape of his daughter Elizabeth, who bore him seven children in a specially built soundproof basement. 

One of the children, a boy, died shortly after birth in 1996, upon which Fritzl burnt his body. 

Court spokesman Ferdinand Schuster told Austrian media on Wednesday that the decision was subject to an appeal to the Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Vienna. 

Fritzl’s release into the mainstream prison system was decided upon by a three-judge panel under a probation period of ten years. 

The panel made its decision based on a mental health assessment produced in March. 

Fritzl stood trial in 2008 for the crimes, having been deemed sane and therefore faced mainstream charges. 

Fritzl is eligible for release as early as 2023 after receiving a life sentence. 

Austrian media pointed out on Wednesday that a 2023 release would see him serve nine years less than his daughter Elizabeth spent in Josef’s basement dungeon.