Lawyer ‘broke child’s arm’ at birthday party

A prominent Viennese lawyer has been found guilty of breaking a nine-year-old girl’s arm at a children’s birthday party.

Lawyer 'broke child's arm' at birthday party
Vienna regional court. Photo: Johann Werfring/Wikimedia

He has been sentenced to six months conditional imprisonment for aggravated assault and fined €9,000. He plans to appeal the sentence.

The incident took place at a birthday party in late January at a sports club in Vienna’s posh Döbling district. The court heard that five children started fighting over who could play a slide made out of gym mats, whilst the adults were in the canteen.

The accused’s five-year-old daughter was allegedly bullied by the other children and when she told him about it he wanted to find out who was responsible.

He told the judge that he had been asking the nine-year-old girl what happened, and had taken hold of her left arm and lifted her up into the air. He said that because the child was “fidgeting around” she fell to the floor.

However, the judge didn’t believe his version of events, and said that a forensic report suggested that had lifted the child into the air and then thrown her a distance of around two metres. She suffered a complicated fracture to her upper arm, which the forensic expert said was the result of a “lively, energetic movement”.

The girl needed two operations and had to wear a shoulder sling for four weeks. She was also treated by a psychotherapist for anxiety and nightmares. She told the judge that he had thrown her in the air “with one hand” and had not checked to see if she was injured.

In addition the lawyer has been ordered to pay the child €8,600 in compensation and for medical bills.

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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.

READ ALSO: Six tourist scams to be aware of in Austria

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.