SHARE
COPY LINK

TERRORISM

500 police to patrol Vienna for New Year

Security in Vienna will be high as residents and visitors gather to celebrate New Year’s Eve, after police received a warning last week of possible terror attacks during the holiday season.

500 police to patrol Vienna for New Year
New Year's Eve celebrations in Vienna. Photo: wien.info

500 police will patrol Vienna’s city centre where thousands of people are expected to gather for the annual ‘Silvesterpfad’ – a New Year’s trail through the old city with stands serving punch and food. Large fireworks displays will be held at the Rathausplatz and in the Prater park at midnight.

“Police task forces have been instructed to pay attention to particular situations, and to certain types of objects and behaviours – especially in areas with larger groups of people,” police spokesman Roman Hahslinger said.

Special forces officers from the Cobra and Wega units will also be deployed on the streets, along with intelligence service officers.

New Year’s revellers taking part in the Silvesterpfad are advised to only carry what is “absolutely necessary” with them and to leave bottles of beverages at home, Hahslinger said. Anyone carrying a large rucksack should be prepared to be stopped and searched by police. Police will also be patrolling major transport hubs outside of the city.

The terror warning remains vague but police said that in the lead-up to Christmas, a friendly intelligence service sent a warning to numerous European capitals saying potential bomb or gun attacks could take place in areas with large crowds between Christmas and New Year.

Tourism officials have said they do not believe that people will choose to stay at home because of security concerns. Last year, 620,000 people celebrated New Year’s Eve in central Vienna.

The celebrations start at 2pm and will go on until 2am on Friday. The routes and program of the New Year’s Eve Trail can be accessed directly via the app 'Oroundo Vienna' in 13 locations via beacons (little Bluetooth transmitters), without roaming costs.

Vienna's dance schools will be offering crash waltz dancing courses during the afternoon in the Graben area, turning it into an open-air ballroom

The weather is expected to be crisp and chilly, at around -5C – which could mean people choose to go home earlier than usual.

New Year's Day in Vienna will be greeted with a morning “hangover cure” brunch – featuring the Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's Day concert on a big screen – in front of the Rathaus.

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.

SHOW COMMENTS