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CRIME

Apprentice built pipe bomb

A 17-year-old apprentice in the Austrian town of Hallein near Salzburg built a pipe-bomb which he then took to his school.

Apprentice built pipe bomb
Photo: Hallein Police Criminal Bureau

The incident, which occurred on 16 May, was kept secret by police until now "for tactical reasons relating to the investigation."

Police spokesman Anton Schentz said the young man has a penchant for pyrotechnics.  "The whole thing was really dangerous to life."

The 17-year-old is charged with placing 80 grams of black powder, taken from fifty signal and blank firing cartridges, inside a ten centimetre long and one centimetre thick steel pipe.

Schentz added that the young man had sealed both ends, and inserted a 25 cm long fuse.

After making the explosive device, the accused had driven with it on his moped into the vocational school in Hallein.

He showed cell phone pictures of the device to his classmates, saying "Today, we let it rip."

Police officers received a warning, and moved quickly to seize the bomb.  According to an explosives expert, "It was no longer a prank."

A search of the young man's apartment revealed a gas gun and a hunting knife.  

"It remains to be clarified how he had obtained the cartridges and the detonation cord", said Schentz.

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CRIME

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.

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