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CRIME

Armed robber evades police capture in Vienna

An armed thief who robbed a jewellers in Vienna managed to slip away and evade capture despite police surrounding a hotel he escaped into.

Armed robber evades police capture in Vienna
LPD Wien

The robbery took place on Monday afternoon at a jewellers in Kärntner Straße where the suspect pulled out a weapon and threatened two male employees.

He then fled with an unknown amount, taking a taxi to the Best Western Hotel near Landstraße.

“According to the first findings of the investigation the culprit jumped in a taxi that brought him directly in front of the hotel. Therefore one assumes he is hiding in the hotel,” said police spokesman Christoph Pölzl to APA.

The hotel was surrounded by police and then evacuated so a thorough search could be carried out inside by special forces.

The police were unable to find the suspect, however, including after searching the area surrounding the hotel.

The jewellery store employees told police that the male suspect was around 40 years old and 1.85 metres tall. At the time of the robbery he wore a dark blue jacket and light grey shoes.

Anyone with information are asked to call the Office for Crime in Vienna on 0131310–33800.

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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