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CRIME

German axe killer kept body for three months

On Tuesday evening police arrested a 52-year-old German man in Vienna for the apparent axe murder of his room mate.

German axe killer kept body for three months
Photo: APA

Vienna's specialized armed police unit WEGA arrived around 10 pm in the Messie apartment building in Aichholzgasse, to find the badly decomposed body of an as-yet unidentified victim, with the axe still embedded in the corpse, and covered with a blanket.

The apartment was totally trashed, according to police, but was still home to the suspect, who is thought to have lived with the body in the living room for around three and a half months.

The suspect surrendered himself peacefully in the bedroom.

While police don't have confirmation of the corpse's identity, they suspect that a 50-year-old migrant worker from Poland who was sharing the apartment became the victim after some kind of dispute.

Police spokesman Paul Eidenberger said that the 52-year-old suspect had been staying with a friend, and had complained he couldn't sleep at his own apartment because of the body in the living room.  The friend told another friend, who was so disturbed that he contacted the police station in Ottakring.

According to the acquaintance, the German suspect was suffering from a severe mental illness.  He has already confessed to the murder in custody, however the background of the killing and the identity of the victim have not been disclosed.

The Vienna prosecutor's office has ordered an autopsy.

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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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