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500 policemen involved in eviction of squatters

The Local Austria
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500 policemen involved in eviction of squatters
Johanna Mikl-Leitner. Photo: APA (Archiv/Fohringer)

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP) says that there were only 500 policemen directly involved in the eviction of the squatters from the house in the Mühlfeldgasse in Vienna's 2nd district on Monday.

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1,000 policemen were there "for other measures in the whole city-zone" she said on Wednesday in national broadcaster ORF's evening news bulletin ZiB 2.

There was broad criticism all over Austria that there were too many police personnel involved, which was widely regarded as disproportionate. Some sources had reported that there were about 1,700 policemen on duty.

Mikl-Leitner added that those 500 policemen were not there all at the same time, but spread throughout the day, between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm.  

The police previously refused to disclose how many personnel were involved. Police spokesman Roman Hahslinger had said on Monday that there were definitely more than 1,000.

Mikl-Leitner defended the police operation saying it was well-planned and that it was not an "easy" operation.

It was expected that there would be "fierce resistance" to the eviction after there had been calls for violent resistance on the Internet, she said. 

If things had escalated, because police had not provided enough personnel, then the force would have been heavily criticised, Mikl-Leitner said.

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