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TERRORISM

Terror conspiracy suspects to be extradited

Austria is to hand over to France two suspected members of the same Islamic State group unit who massacred 130 people in Paris last November, officials and media reports said Wednesday.

Terror conspiracy suspects to be extradited
Linz High Court. Photo: www.justiz.gv.at

Austrian authorities believe the Algerian and the Pakistani, aged 34 and 28 at the time, travelled to Greece along with two men involved in the attacks, posing as refugees.

While the assailants continued on to France and died after conducting their massacre on November 13, the other two were detained by Greek authorities for 25 days because they had falsified Syrian passports.

Once let go, they made it to Salzburg in western Austria at the end of November — after the Paris atrocities — and Austrian police arrested them at a migrant centre on December 10.

Following a French request, a court in Salzburg approved at the beginning of July their transfer to France, but the Pakistani appealed, the Austria Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

A higher court in the city of Linz rejected this appeal on Wednesday, a spokesman told AFP.

The man, hands and feet in cuffs and surrounded by eight masked and heavily armed police, told the court in northern Austria that he feared for his safety in France and that he would not get a fair trial.

The Algerian had not appealed and it is possible he is already in France. A spokesman for state prosecutors in Salzburg declined to comment on the pair's current whereabouts.

Officials in France were not immediately available for comment.

Austrian prosecutors said in April that they were looking into “leads” suggesting that the Pakistani may have been involved in attacks in 2008 in the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people.

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CRIME

Case dropped against second Swiss man over Vienna attack ‘links’

Swiss prosecutors said Thursday they had dropped the case against a second Swiss man over alleged links to a deadly shooting rampage in Vienna due to a lack of evidence.

Armed police officers stand guard before the arrival of Austrian Chancellor Kurz and President of the European Council to pay respects to the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Vienna, Austria on November 9,2020. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
Armed police officers stand guard before the arrival of Austrian Chancellor Kurz and President of the European Council to pay respects to the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Vienna, Austria on November 9,2020. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG), which last month decided to drop the case against one suspect, told AFP it had issued a discontinuation order in the case against a second man.

On November 2, 2020, convicted Islamic State sympathiser Kujtim Fejzulai killed four people in Vienna before being shot dead by police.

It was the first major attack in Austria in decades and the first blamed on a jihadist.

Two Swiss citizens who knew Fejzulai were arrested in the northeastern Swiss town of Winterthur just a day after the attack on suspicion they may have helped in its preparation.

‘How was it possible?’ Austrians left asking painful questions after Vienna terror shootings

The two, who were aged 18 and 24 at the time, were known to the police and were the targets of prior criminal cases over terror-linked offences.

The OAG acknowledged Thursday that no evidence had emerged that either man had participated in any way or had prior knowledge of the attack.

The older of the two men was meanwhile hit with a penalty in a separate case with no links to the Vienna file, the OAG said.

The penalty order, seen by Swiss media, indicated that he had been found guilty of violating Switzerland’s law banning Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and related organisations and of being in possession of “depictions of violence”.

According to the ATS news agency, an IS group video was found on his phone depicting people being executed and decapitated.

He was handed a six-month suspended prison sentence, a fine of 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,100, 950 euros), and three years’ probation, ATS said.

ANALYSIS: Vienna terror attack was ‘only a matter of time’

In light of this penalty, he would not be compensated for the 176 days he spent behind bars after his arrest following the Vienna attack, it added.

The OAG said a separate case was still pending against the younger of the two men, also on suspicion he breached the Swiss law banning Al-Qaeda, IS and related organisations, and over “allegations of depictions of violence”. “The presumption of innocence applies,” it stressed.

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