"I was awakened by a loud bang and suddenly four armed-to-the-teeth men were surrounding me. I looked directly into the barrels of their guns, it felt like I was in a nightmare," the 49-year-old man told the Kronen paper.
The Cobra team soon realised the confused man wasn’t the three African asylum seekers they were looking for – and that they should have broken into the apartment next door.
“The masked policemen spoke to me in English, so I was completely overwhelmed, because I was still asleep," the innocent man said.
Red-faced, the police left, and stormed next door. When they searched the correct property they found cocaine and cannabis along with cash and mobile phones. Three asylum seekers from Liberia, Cameroon and Nigeria were living in the apartment and two were arrested for dealing drugs.
"'Error' is a little harsh," Josef Knoflach, director of EKO Cobra South, said to the Austrian Press Agency. He defended the actions of his team, saying that drug deals could also have been taking place in the neighbour’s flat – but admitted that the judge had only given a search warrant for the asylum seekers’ apartment.
The Special Forces team didn’t turn on any lights in the hallway as they didn’t want to alert the suspects that they were coming. Knoflach said the door numbers were indistinct, and that police had to use a battering ram to enter the apartment as the key they had brought with them didn’t work.
The innocent man has been handed compensation forms and will be able to claim compensation for his damaged door.