‘Career criminal’ arrested for elderly couple murder

A suspect has been arrested nearly three weeks after the brutal murder of an elderly couple in Donaustadt, Vienna.

'Career criminal' arrested for elderly couple murder
Dariusz K. Photo: Police

A 29-year-old Polish man, Dariusz K., was arrested in Düsseldorf in Germany on Monday. He will be extradited to Austria within the next few days. 

Police detectives from several European countries had been on his trail for days, according to a report in the Kronen Zeitung newspaper.

Dariusz K. had called friends using different mobile phones and had also been communicating with them via Facebook.

He was already a wanted man after having committed several violent crimes throughout Europe. It’s thought he is guilty of at least one other murder, in Holland.

Elderly Viennese couple Gerhard and Erna K. were murdered on May 21st. They were found stabbed and bludgeoned to death. The woman’s body was naked and the Latin phrase ‘tantum ergo’ (‘Why this?’) had been written on her body in paint. Her 75-year-old husband, a former mechanic and SPÖ district councillor (75), had been stabbed in the head, neck and upper body.

The couple’s car was found three days after the murder, just nine km away in Raasdorf, Upper Austria. A stolen bank card had been used to withdraw money from a local bank, where Dariusz K. was filmed by a surveillance camera. Using DNA evidence from the crime scene and the car, police were able to identify him from a criminal register.

Police said that he is a repeat offender who wanders around Europe in search of his next victims.

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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.