11 years jail for kidnapping at gunpoint

A 28-year-old Slovakian man was sentenced to 11 years in prison in Graz on Wednesday, for an aggravated car-jacking and armed robbery.

The events occurred in November 2014, when a 26-year-old pregnant woman waiting in a parking lot in Ansfelden, Upper Austria, had the door of her car ripped open, and a gas-powered pistol held to her head.
The 28-year-old Slovak man forced the woman to take himself and his 18-year-old female companion on a three hour journey at gunpoint, according to a report from Austria's national broadcaster, ORF.
The criminal duo sat in the back seat, with the man holding the gun to the hapless driver's head for some of the journey. He also robbed the woman of €70, which he claimed in the trial she had given to them voluntarily to pay for food.
The man ordered the woman to take them to a railway station at Peggau in Styria.  Once the pair had left, the woman quickly sought help at a nearby pub. A fast police response meant that the man and his accomplice, who had some health problems including epilepsy, were quickly arrested.
At his trial, the man admitted that he held the gun to her head, but said that after ten minutes he had second thoughts, and decided he had made a mistake, so he put the gun away and apologized.
The victim, who at the time of the forced carpooling was pregnant, still suffers from post-traumatic stress, with nightmares and anxiety. The accused had to be taken to another room while she gave her evidence.
During questioning, the man explained that the reason he had two guns and several knives with him was because he lived in a forest, and needed to protect himself from wild animals.
He was charged with aggravated robbery, and aggravated coercion. The non-final verdict was 11 years in prison.

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What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

It’s always good to know your legal rights when living as a foreigner in Austria - including if you get in trouble with the police.

What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

Getting arrested is probably not high up on a list of must-dos for international residents in Austria, but it’s not a bad idea to know what would happen if you did.

In a nutshell, the process in Austria is similar to most other countries in that you have to be suspected of committing a crime to be arrested.

But what happens next? What are your rights? And how long can someone be held in custody?

Here’s what you need to know.

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When can someone be arrested in Austria?

If someone is suspected of being a criminal, they can be arrested by the police and taken to a police station for questioning. 

Under the Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure, suspects must be informed of their rights as soon as possible, or at the very least before being interrogated by the police.

They also have a right to remain silent or to make a statement, as well as consult a lawyer.

According to Vienna-based attorney Evert Vastenburg, the initial detainment after arrest can last up to 48 hours while a judge decides whether a person should remain in custody or not.

A suspect can then be released on bail or under certain conditions, such as handing over a passport to police.

However, those suspected of serious crimes that typically lead to a prison sentence of 10 years or more (if found guilty) are almost always remanded in custody.

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When is someone remanded in custody?

To be refused bail and remanded in custody, there must be serious suspicion that another crime could be committed. 

The judge also must believe there is no other way to deal with the suspect. For example, he/she needs to be readily available to the authorities for questioning.

Another valid reason to keep someone in custody past the initial 48 hours is the risk of someone absconding. In fact, Vastenburg says a flight risk is often assumed with people that do not live and work in Austria.

Other reasons to deny a suspect release are a risk that evidence will be destroyed, witnesses will be contacted, or there is a possibility that further crimes will be committed.

What happens if bail is denied?

If bail is denied and a person must be held in custody for more than 48 hours, they have to be legally represented by a lawyer.

If a suspect can’t afford to hire a lawyer, they will be appointed a Verfahrenshilfe (public defender) by the state.

The case will be then reviewed by a judge on a regular basis to decide if custody should continue.

The first review will take place after 14 days, then at one month and every two months, but a suspect can petition for release at any time.

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How many foreigners are in Austrian prisons?

According to data from the Austrian Judiciary, the number of foreigners in Austrian jails as of June 1st 2022 was 4,332 – almost 50 percent of all prisoners.

In relation to the statistics, the Austrian Judiciary states: “The high proportion of foreigners is one of many challenges for the Austrian penal system. 

“In particular, with regard to successful rehabilitation, the fastest possible transfer to the countries of origin is encouraged.

The most common nationality of foreign prisoners in Austria is Romanian, followed by people from the former Yugoslavian states, Hungary, Nigeria and Turkey.