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CRIME

Swiss arrest Gambian suspected of killing au pair

Swiss authorities have arrested a Gambian man suspected of murdering a 25-year-old American woman working as an au pair in Vienna.

Swiss arrest Gambian suspected of killing au pair
Photo: Facebook/Private

The Swiss justice ministry told AFP the Gambian man had been arrested at a centre for asylum seekers in the northeastern town of Kreuzlingen, not far from the Austrian border.

The man, who was not identified, “is suspected of having murdered a woman in Vienna,” the ministry said in an email, adding that he was being held pending extradition to Austria.

The arrest comes after a woman, named as Lauren M. from Colorado, was found dead last week in her Vienna apartment lying face-down on a mattress with splatters of blood on the floor.

Her half-undressed body had been surrounded by a sea of burning candles, according to the APA news agency.

Swiss authorities said on Friday the suspect “will be questioned today by the prosecutor in the canton of Thurgau on behalf of the justice ministry,” stressing that if he agreed to be sent to Austria, he could be extradited “immediately”.

If he opposes the move, however, Swiss authorities will need a formal extradition request from Austria before determining if he can be sent out of the country, the ministry said.

The office of Austria's state prosecutor meanwhile said it had already filed a formal extradition request for the suspect on Friday, although Swiss authorities said they had not yet received it.

Lauren M. was first reported missing by her employers, who described her as “very reliable”, after she had failed to pick up their child from kindergarten.

Firemen then went to the American's one-bedroom flat and broke down the entrance door, leading to the gruesome discovery.

Lauren M. had been living in Austria for several years and was a German language student.

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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