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Court denies extradition of Russian gangster

An Austria appeals court overturned the planned extradition to Russia of the alleged head of a brutal organised crime gang wanted by Moscow on Thursday, citing human rights concerns.

Court denies extradition of Russian gangster
Austrian Palace of Justice. Photo: Oberster Gerichtshof (OGH)

A lower Vienna court had ruled in May that Aslan Gagiev, arrested in the Austrian capital in January, could be extradited to Russia where he is accused of personally carrying out at least six murders.

The gang's alleged victims include North Ossetia's deputy vice-president, the deputy public prosecutor, a mayor and the chief of police, Austrian federal police said at the time of his arrest.

But the appeals court said that it could not countenance his extradition because of “repeated violations of articles of the European convention on human rights… in custody” in Russia.

This came after the three judges examined reports from the Austrian embassy in Moscow and rights group Amnesty International and a 2012 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

The judges called on the lower court to seek assurances from Russia that Gagiev, who is of Georgian origin, can turn to the Austrian embassy at any time and for embassy staff to be able to visit him in jail.

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CRIME

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

Following the suicide of an Austrian doctor who received threats from Covid-19 anti-vaccination activists, the government has now launched a new campaign to help victims of online abuse.

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

The Austrian medical community was left in shock in July when Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a local doctor in Seewalchen am Attersee in Upper Austria, took her own life following months of online abuse.

Kellermayr, 36, had been targeted by anti-vaccination activists and Covid-19 conspiracy theorists for her out-spoken support of vaccines, and the abuse even included death threats. 

Her death prompted candlelight vigils and demonstrations in Vienna and the tragic story was picked up by news outlets around the world.

READ MORE: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

This led to calls for tighter laws against online bullying and the ability for perpetrators to be prosecuted in other EU countries – particularly as at least two of the people who are believed to have targeted Kellermayr are based in Germany, according to the Guardian.

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has even called for the creation of a special public prosecutor’s office to deal with “hate-on-the-net”, but this has been rejected by prosecutors and other political parties, as reported by ORF.

Instead, the Federal Justice Department has launched a new information campaign, website and hotline to help people dealing with online abuse.

FOR MEMBERS: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

What is in the new campaign?

Austria’s Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) said they have launched the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to inform victims about the support available.

Zadic said: “It is important to me that those affected know that they are not alone in this situation and that the judiciary supports them with free psychological and legal process support.”

“You don’t have to cope alone with the extraordinary burdens that criminal proceedings can entail, for example through confrontation with the perpetrators.”

READ ALSO: Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Part of the support package is the new website Hilfe bei Gewalt (Help with Violence), which details how to access help from the authorities, as well as secure free legal advice and representation from a lawyer.

The website states the service is for victims of bullying and/or hate online, defamation, stalking, terrorism, incitement, sexual violence and robbery.

The service is designed to be anonymous with options to contact the Justice Department by phone or via a chat box. The website also lists contact details for regional support services in all provinces across Austria. 

The free (kostenlos) hotline for Hilfe bei Gewalt is 0800 112 112.

Useful links

Hilfe bei Gewalt

Austrian Federal Justice Department

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