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Teen terror suspect released from custody

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Teen terror suspect released from custody
St. Pölten Regional Court. File photo: APA/Fohringer
14:15 CET+01:00
A 14-year-old terrorist suspect who was arrested two weeks ago in St Pölten, Lower Austria, has been released from custody.

Mertkan G, a Turkish national who has lived in Austria for the past eight years, has had his passport taken away and has been ordered to see a psychologist and continue with his education.

He was allegedly planning to travel to Syria and had been plotting a series of bomb attacks at crowded targets such as Vienna’s Westbahnhof railway station. The Islamic State is reported to have offered him money to carry out such a terror attack.

Michaela Obenaus, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office in St. Pölten, said that the 14-year-old is on preliminary probation and that considering his age it had been decided he would be treated "more leniently" and would be better off continuing with his school work than being held in police custody. He will have to report regularly to his parole officer.

A press release from St. Pölten Regional Court said that such an approach would help deradicalize the youth. An expert will examine him to determine how mature he is. In Austria young people are considered to be criminally responsible from the age of 14.

Mertkan G had been under police surveillance since the beginning of October, as he had been making extremist statements and appeared to have been radicalized.

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