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TERRORISM

Austrian festival ups security in wake of attacks

Organisers of a festival in Austria expected to see hundreds of thousands of visitors say they have tightened security at the site following recent terror attacks around Europe.

Austrian festival ups security in wake of attacks
Photo: Lake Festival

Tightened security at the dance music Lake Festival being held today, Friday, and Saturday means festival-goers may have to wait longer than usual to enter, organiser Klaus Leutgeb told the ORF.

“Due to the strengthening of security controls, visitors will need more time in front of and in the entrance area, because there are bomb-sniffing dogs, 50 extra people at the entrances, random bag controls and suspicious people will be additionally searched,” he said.

As well as 400 personnel from a security firm, as many as 50 police officers, lifeguards and firemen will be on the site.

Leutgeb asked that festival-goers refrain from bringing large backpacks, bags or handbags with them as they will not be allowed in.

“It is very important that people feel secure,” he said.

It follows several attacks in Europe in recent weeks, some of which were carried out by people inspired by or affiliated with the so-called Islamic State terrorist group.

In one attack a Syrian asylum seeker exploded a suicide bomb outside a music festival in Ansbach, southern Germany, killing himself and wounding 12 people.

Chance of attack is “very, very low”

Other event organisers in Austria have also upped security, although some have said there is no need for “hysteria”.

Thomas Semmler, who runs Klagenfurt’s Master of Dirt bike show taking place in August, announced a few days ago that “in days like these” they were intensifying the security. Security will only grant entry to people who can provide identification, he told the Kurier.

Organisers of a beach volleyball event taking place this week in Klagenfurt have said they are not increasing security personnel but had given special briefings on “investigating every backpack”.

Criminal sociologist Reinhard Kreissl told the Kurier that although it was important to keep eyes open, there was no need to “fall into a spiral of fear” as the chance of getting caught up in an attack were still “very, very low”.

“The world has not changed, but our feeling, our view of the world has,” he said.

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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