Ivan, a pensioner who has no legs and is wheelchair-bound, said he was taken from his home by three men in Bulgaria, beaten and forced to beg for 12 hours a day on Vienna’s Mariahilfer Strasse and Reumannplatz.
He could not escape or take toilet breaks whilst he was begging, and said that he only survived because generous strangers brought him food and drink.
He was in such a bad state that someone called an ambulance and whilst he was in hospital he was able to explain what had happened to him.
Police then arrested Zapryan S. (27) – one of three men who abducted the elderly man in 2013. They took him to Vienna, and once even to Paris to beg on the Champs-Élysées.
Zapryan S. said that he had taken care of Ivan and that he had not been forced to beg, but had done it “voluntarily”.
He added that he himself had been forced to beg by his brother and another man, and that they had pocketed all the money.