The 34-year-old victim was a triple amputee, who had lost both legs and a hand in an accident in Romania.
Since 2009 he was forced by a Romanian woman, 35, and her 37-year-old boyfriend to beg in several Romanian cities, and threatened with violence if he refused.
He made around €150 a day for the couple, before they decided to move to Vienna where they thought he could make more money. He worked Monday to Saturday from 8.30am to 6pm on Reumannplatz and on Sundays was sent to beg at various flea markets.
He met his female tormentor on a train in Romania where he had confided to her that he no longer wanted to live with his family as he was embarrassed by his appearance. The woman pretended to take pity on him and said she wanted to help him.
Shortly after meeting her he was forced into a life of begging. “He didn’t want to do it. He said he would not even ask his own family for money,” state lawyer Ursula Kropiunig said.
The couple tortured him with rubber truncheons and electric cables.
In Vienna he was able to make between €300 and €1,000 euros a day, but every cent was taken from him by the couple. At dinner he was given only leftovers and was made to sleep on the floor, sometimes in his own excrement.
He tried to escape several times and once managed to get as far as Germany but the couple tracked him down, punished him and brought him back to Vienna.
The woman even arranged a sham marriage so that she could cash in his disability benefits in Romania. She and her boyfriend used their ill gotten gains to renovate their house in Romania.
Their victim was picked up by police in Vienna in November 2013 and when he told them his story they arrested the couple, along with the woman’s sister who was paid €20 a day to watch the disabled man and make sure he didn’t escape.