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CRIME

Neo-Nazi arrested after asylum-seeker threats

Austrian police commandos have arrested a suspected neo-Nazi who allegedly threatened to massacre asylum-seekers, recovering several weapons and ammunition at his home, police said Sunday.

Neo-Nazi arrested after asylum-seeker threats
Photo: BMI, Gregor Wenda

The 20-year-old “repeatedly told friends that he wanted to 'shoot dead all asylum-seekers with his shotgun' at a refugee centre”, police in Upper Austria state said in a statement.

The man also used neo-Nazi language and sent a friend two text messages that included “National Socialist ideology,” police said.

In a raid on his home in the Linz-Land district on Thursday, police also found wartime Nazi memorabilia. Elite “Cobra” commandos arrested him near his home in the early hours on Friday.

Austria last year received some 90,000 asylum requests, the second highest per capita in the European Union, and saw around 10 times that number pass through towards Germany and Scandinavia.

The influx has boosted the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) — which says it rejects all violence — but Austria has largely been spared the attacks against refugees seen in neighbouring Germany.

Last Sunday a man with neo-Nazi links opened fire with a Kalashnikov assault rifle at a concert in Vorarlberg state in western Austria, killing two people and injuring 12 before shooting himself.

Police said the man, who until 2013 was active in the local skinhead scene, had several assault convictions and was banned from owning weapons, had had an argument with his girlfriend shortly beforehand.

On Friday evening some 1,500 motorbikes — the concert was organised by local biker gang “The Lords” — drove in a huge convoy past the venue in memory of those killed and against violence.

CRIME

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

Following the suicide of an Austrian doctor who received threats from Covid-19 anti-vaccination activists, the government has now launched a new campaign to help victims of online abuse.

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

The Austrian medical community was left in shock in July when Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a local doctor in Seewalchen am Attersee in Upper Austria, took her own life following months of online abuse.

Kellermayr, 36, had been targeted by anti-vaccination activists and Covid-19 conspiracy theorists for her out-spoken support of vaccines, and the abuse even included death threats. 

Her death prompted candlelight vigils and demonstrations in Vienna and the tragic story was picked up by news outlets around the world.

READ MORE: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

This led to calls for tighter laws against online bullying and the ability for perpetrators to be prosecuted in other EU countries – particularly as at least two of the people who are believed to have targeted Kellermayr are based in Germany, according to the Guardian.

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has even called for the creation of a special public prosecutor’s office to deal with “hate-on-the-net”, but this has been rejected by prosecutors and other political parties, as reported by ORF.

Instead, the Federal Justice Department has launched a new information campaign, website and hotline to help people dealing with online abuse.

FOR MEMBERS: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

What is in the new campaign?

Austria’s Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) said they have launched the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to inform victims about the support available.

Zadic said: “It is important to me that those affected know that they are not alone in this situation and that the judiciary supports them with free psychological and legal process support.”

“You don’t have to cope alone with the extraordinary burdens that criminal proceedings can entail, for example through confrontation with the perpetrators.”

READ ALSO: Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Part of the support package is the new website Hilfe bei Gewalt (Help with Violence), which details how to access help from the authorities, as well as secure free legal advice and representation from a lawyer.

The website states the service is for victims of bullying and/or hate online, defamation, stalking, terrorism, incitement, sexual violence and robbery.

The service is designed to be anonymous with options to contact the Justice Department by phone or via a chat box. The website also lists contact details for regional support services in all provinces across Austria. 

The free (kostenlos) hotline for Hilfe bei Gewalt is 0800 112 112.

Useful links

Hilfe bei Gewalt

Austrian Federal Justice Department

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