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CRIME

Man in intensive care after shopping centre stabbing

A man is in intensive care after being stabbed in the lower abdomen in a shopping centre in central Vienna.

Man in intensive care after shopping centre stabbing
The Mall shopping centre.

Four men were attacked by a gang of five men armed with knives late on Wednesday evening in ‘The Mall’ shopping centre next to the Wien Mitte train station. The men threatened the group and demanded they hand over cash and mobile phones.

Two of the men, aged 29 and 32, received head injuries and the fourth man was stabbed in the thigh.  

Witnesses said one of the armed gang also had a stun gun with him and that shots were heard during the robbery  – although police later confirmed the gun was a replica and not capable of firing. 

The five men ran off after the attack but were later arrested in the nearby Stadtpark and were identified in a police line-up by some of the victims and witnesses.

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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