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IMMIGRATION

Migrant people-smuggling gang jailed in Austria

An Austrian court sentenced five people to jail on Thursday for smuggling some 2,000 refugees and migrants into the country last year, in what judges described as "excruciating conditions".

Migrant people-smuggling gang jailed in Austria
Migrants crammed into a people smuggler's van. File photo: Police

The alleged ringleader of the gang, a 43-year old Serbian national, received seven years in prison for setting up a “professional organisation” of human traffickers.

His accomplices, who included his mother and his partner, were jailed for up to four years.

Austrian police had arrested the five last September.

Prosecutors at the tribunal in Korneuburg, near Vienna, accused the group of illegally transporting 2,000 people from Hungary to Austria between spring and autumn 2015.

Dozens of migrants were crammed into small vehicles for hours without fresh air or the possibility of using a bathroom, the prosecution said.

The gang is believed to have made €350,000 ($396,000) from their criminal activities.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees trekking along the Balkan route transited through Austria last year in the hope of reaching Germany and Sweden.

The country stepped up checks for people-smugglers after the bodies of 71 migrants including four children were found in an abandoned truck on a motorway near Vienna in August 2015.

ECONOMY

Diversity and jobs: How migrants contribute to Vienna’s economy

International business owners in Vienna bring in billions of euros in revenue and taxes each year, according to a recent survey by the Chamber of Commerce.

Diversity and jobs: How migrants contribute to Vienna's economy

New figures show that Vienna’s international entrepreneurs do more than simply boost diversity in Austria’s capital city – they also significantly contribute to the local economy.

The Wirtschaftskammer (Chamber of Commerce) has revealed that business owners in Vienna with a migration background generate € 8.3 billion in revenue and create around 45,500 jobs.

Plus, these companies pay around € 3.7 billion every year in taxes and duties, reports ORF.

READ MORE: Austrian presidential elections: Why 1.4 million people can’t vote

Walter Ruck, President of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, said: “Companies with a migrant background not only enrich the diversity of the corporate landscape in Vienna, they are also an economic factor.”

Ruck added that more than 200 international companies move to the capital each year and said the diversity is helping Vienna to financially recover from the pandemic. 

The Chamber of Commerce considers a business owner to have a migration background if they were not born in Austria and/or they have a non-Austrian nationality.

READ ALSO: What are the rules on working overtime in Austria?

According to ORF, there are 34,000 entrepreneurs in Vienna with a migration background and 7,400 of those business owners have Austrian citizenship.

Additionally, 4,500 business owners have Slovakian nationality, 3,800 are from Romania and 2,600 have German citizenship.

The most popular business sector for people in Vienna with a migration background is retail, followed by real estate and technical services.

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