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CRIME

American au-pair may have been killed by jealous lover

Authorities investigating the murder of an American au-pair in Vienna in January say they believe the key suspect may have been driven by jealousy to carry out the attack.

American au-pair may have been killed by jealous lover
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Abdou I., 24, has been charged with the murder of 25-year-old Lauren Mann, although he claims he was not in Vienna at the time of her death.

Mann’s body was discovered in her flat in Vienna’s Wieden district in January this year, having been suffocated to death. Her half-undressed body was found lying face down on a mattress and surrounded by burning candles.

A police investigation led to a search for Abdou I., a failed asylum seeker thought to be living with Mann at the time, but who had apparently fled the city.

He was picked up nine days later at a refugee home in Switzerland and was eventually deported back to Austria in early April.

In a police interrogation in Austria, he denied he is responsible for the murder and claimed he had already been deported to Italy in December before making his way to Switzerland where he claimed asylum.

Police say, however, that DNA evidence shows his sperm was found on Mann’s body and bed.

Now they believe Abdou I., who was believed to have begun a sexual relationship with the au-pair, may have carried out the attack in a jealous rage after seeing her with someone else.

Investigators say they believe he became angry after entering the flat one evening and seeing Mann lying next to a 15-year-old Afghan boy who had his arm around her.

They suspect he was driven by jealousy to carry out the attack, in which medical experts say the American was violently suffocated.

DNA expert Christina Stein says evidence suggests Mann and the Afghan teenager had also been together, although the sperm left by Abdou I. was fresher and probably left shortly before her death.

Lawyer for Abdou I. Astrid Wagner says he has not changed his statement and maintains he is innocent.

A date for the court case has not yet been set.

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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