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CRIME

Suspect confesses to killing mother

A 22-year-old Austrian man who was extradited from the US in November on suspicion of having murdered his mother has finally confessed to the killing.

Suspect confesses to killing mother
The apartments in Strasshof where the body was found. Photo: APA/Punz

Stefan W., from Strasshof in Lower Austria, is believed to have killed his mother in September last year by stabbing her more than 30 times in the neck at the apartment they shared.

He then stuffed her body inside a sofa bed and flew to the US, spending 70 days on the run before he was arrested in Portland, Oregon on October 16th.

Friedrich Köhl, spokesman for the prosecution, told the Austrian Press Agency that Stefan W. broke his silence on Thursday, finally confessing to killing his 43-year-old mother and giving details of the sequence of events.

In the next few weeks the prosecution will carry out a crime scene reconstruction and a psychiatrist will give a report on the 22-year-old’s mental state.

Stefan W. is being held on remand in Korneuburg prison, pending a trial.

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CRIME

Austrian people smuggler jailed over deaths of Syrians in minivan

An Austrian court on Monday sentenced a people smuggler to seven years in prison over the deaths of two Syrians who suffocated in the crammed minivan he was driving, Austria's news agency reported.

Austrian people smuggler jailed over deaths of Syrians in minivan

The bodies of the two men were discovered last October when Austrian authorities stopped and searched a van at the border with Hungary.

Thirty people in total were crammed in the vehicle, whose driver fled the scene but was later arrested in Latvia and extradited.

The 19-year-old Latvian was found guilty of people smuggling and causing fatal injuries, but was not found guilty of murder, APA reported.

READ MORE: Austrian police warn public about new ‘fake cops’ scam

He said he would accept the verdict, but the prosecution can still appeal it, APA said.

A court spokeswoman could not immediately be reached by AFP. 

Austria’s interior ministry announced in May that police had smashed a group believed to have smuggled tens of thousands of mostly Syrians, including the two found suffocated, from Hungary to Austria.

A total of 205 people suspected to be linked to the group have been arrested in central and eastern Europe, the ministry said.

Those smuggled, including children, were trying to reach western European countries, including Germany and France.

The October discovery of the dead men recalled a dire event in August 2015 when 71 people from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan suffocated in the back of an air-tight van where they had been hidden by people smugglers.

The bodies, including those of three children and a baby, were discovered in Austria but they had died while still on the other side of the border.

Almost four years later, the Hungarian courts sentenced their smugglers to life imprisonment.

The emotion aroused by that tragedy triggered a brief opening of the borders to hundreds of thousands of people wishing to reach Western Europe.

But Austria and other European countries have since fortified borders to stop people smuggling.

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