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CRIME

Man arrested for killing pensioner after smoking row

A 19-year-old man has been arrested in Vienna on suspicion of murdering a 72-year-old woman in her apartment in Favoriten after he flew into a violent rage when she asked him to stop smoking in a communal stairwell.

Man arrested for killing pensioner after smoking row
The apartment building in Favoriten. Photo: APA/Oczeret

Police said the youth was arrested on Sunday at around 4.30pm and had confessed to the murder. He had been to the crime scene – an apartment block in Davidgasse – to visit his brother, and numerous witnesses had reported seeing him on Friday when the murder took place, police spokesman Thomas Keiblinger said.

The police report said that the pensioner, who lived in the building, had got into an argument with the 19-year-old when she went into the stairwell to empty her rubbish and found him smoking there. She asked him to go outside to finish his cigarette, but he refused.

A while later he knocked on her door and allegedly punched her in the face – with such force that she fell over in her hallway. He then followed her into her apartment and continued violently attacking her.

The woman’s body was discovered on Friday evening. The cause of death given was massive head injuries inflicted with a blunt object. She also had stab marks on her neck and upper body.

She lived alone in her apartment but was visited often by relatives and neighbours, who called the police when they could not reach her on Saturday.

CRIME

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.

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