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Missing bomb plot teen arrested in Vienna

A 14-year-old boy who plotted to bomb a crowded rail station and had been missing since Tuesday was arrested in Vienna on Friday morning, a spokeswoman for the St. Pölten prosecutor has confirmed.

Missing bomb plot teen arrested in Vienna
Merkan G. Photo: Police

Merkan G., who is of Turkish origin and from Lower Austria, was found together with a schoolfriend – a 12-year-old boy from Afghanistan who was reported missing on Wednesday.

Merkan G. is now in police custody but police said they have no reason to detain the 12-year-old, who will be returned to his parents. There is no evidence that the younger boy had any connection with terrorist activities.

The boys were arrested at around 7am in a fast food restaurant in Vienna’s Mariahilf shopping district by a Vienna police unit.

"The 14-year-old will be transferred during the day to St. Pölten prison," police spokesman Markus Haindl said.

Merkan G. went missing on Tuesday, before he was due to start a period of probation in a remand home in Hütteldorf, Vienna. Police focussed their search for him on Vienna, and raided mosques on Friday morning. 

The teenager was first arrested in October and authorities have said they believe the boy was planning to travel to Syria to join the Isis terror group, and had researched how to make a bomb, with Vienna's crowded Westbahnhof railway station one of several potential targets.

In Austria, young people are considered criminally culpable from the age of 14.

CRIME

Case dropped against second Swiss man over Vienna attack ‘links’

Swiss prosecutors said Thursday they had dropped the case against a second Swiss man over alleged links to a deadly shooting rampage in Vienna due to a lack of evidence.

Armed police officers stand guard before the arrival of Austrian Chancellor Kurz and President of the European Council to pay respects to the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Vienna, Austria on November 9,2020. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
Armed police officers stand guard before the arrival of Austrian Chancellor Kurz and President of the European Council to pay respects to the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Vienna, Austria on November 9,2020. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG), which last month decided to drop the case against one suspect, told AFP it had issued a discontinuation order in the case against a second man.

On November 2, 2020, convicted Islamic State sympathiser Kujtim Fejzulai killed four people in Vienna before being shot dead by police.

It was the first major attack in Austria in decades and the first blamed on a jihadist.

Two Swiss citizens who knew Fejzulai were arrested in the northeastern Swiss town of Winterthur just a day after the attack on suspicion they may have helped in its preparation.

‘How was it possible?’ Austrians left asking painful questions after Vienna terror shootings

The two, who were aged 18 and 24 at the time, were known to the police and were the targets of prior criminal cases over terror-linked offences.

The OAG acknowledged Thursday that no evidence had emerged that either man had participated in any way or had prior knowledge of the attack.

The older of the two men was meanwhile hit with a penalty in a separate case with no links to the Vienna file, the OAG said.

The penalty order, seen by Swiss media, indicated that he had been found guilty of violating Switzerland’s law banning Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and related organisations and of being in possession of “depictions of violence”.

According to the ATS news agency, an IS group video was found on his phone depicting people being executed and decapitated.

He was handed a six-month suspended prison sentence, a fine of 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,100, 950 euros), and three years’ probation, ATS said.

ANALYSIS: Vienna terror attack was ‘only a matter of time’

In light of this penalty, he would not be compensated for the 176 days he spent behind bars after his arrest following the Vienna attack, it added.

The OAG said a separate case was still pending against the younger of the two men, also on suspicion he breached the Swiss law banning Al-Qaeda, IS and related organisations, and over “allegations of depictions of violence”. “The presumption of innocence applies,” it stressed.

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