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TERRORISM

New weapons for special forces police

Austria’s special forces police will be reinforced with extra officers, cutting edge technology and weapons and armoured limousines to deal with the higher threat to security from terrorists, Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner has said.

New weapons for special forces police
File photo: Paul Gillingwater

The new equipment, which will include the latest video analysis systems and surveillance technology, will cost almost €300 million over the next three years.

An additional 2,000 officers have not yet been included in the budget.

France and Germany have also said they will be boosting their security services after the deadly attacks in Paris ten days ago which killed 130 people.

Mikl-Leitner said the focus will be on strengthening state security, the Federal Criminal Office, and the special forces. “The fight against terror is one which our specialists must take up against these criminals and murderers,” she said.

Special forces officers will be equipped with new machine guns, sniper rifles and target devices to help detect targets at long distances and in poor visibility. They will also be issued with a full body armour, including lightweight protective vests, helmets and shields.

Armoured limousines and paramilitary transport vehicles will also be purchased, as a way of defending special forces from terrorists equipped with powerful assault rifles and anti-tank weapons.

Austrian companies may stand to profit from this – a Carinthian company sells armoured limousines made by Audi, BMW, Porsche and Mercedes. And a company in Tyrol makes paramilitary transport vehicles.

The news has been welcomed by the police, with police union chairman Hermann Greylinger saying “wonders will never cease, welcome back to reality, minister”.

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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