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Cop confesses to murder of girlfriend and son

A police officer from Vienna has confessed to shooting dead his pregnant girlfriend with his service weapon and strangling their son.

Cop confesses to murder of girlfriend and son
The apartment building in Vienna where the couple lived. Photo: ORF

The 23-year-old, named only as Daniel L., was interrogated for several hours over the weekend and confessed to killing his 25-year-old partner Claudia and their child on October 2nd.

He shot her with his service pistol, which he was not supposed to take home with him. He admitted that contrary to the rules he often took his gun home and kept it in a box.

He said that after shooting Claudia, he then strangled their one-year-old son, who was in the next room. He put the two bodies in the trunk of his car and three days later drove to Styria.

He told detectives that he had been fighting with his partner for several months and that she had physically attacked him and imprisoned him in their apartment.

He said that on the day of the murders he had wanted to end the relationship, and that he had fought with her over this in their shared apartment in Vienna’s Margareten district. He then shot her.

Daniel L. had been working with the Vienna state police department since January 1st. He reported his girlfriend and son as missing last Monday night. He told police that she had left the apartment together with their toddler, taking a bag of the boy's clothes with her, and that he had not seen her since.

His girlfriend, originally from Klagenfurt, was six months pregnant. A friend of hers wrote an appeal on Facebook, asking people to help find her.

On Tuesday the man called his boss to say that he was sick and drove to his parents’ house in Styria. He buried the two corpses in a meadow, not far from the home where he grew up.

When police searched the couple’s flat in Vienna for clues as to the whereabouts of the missing woman they found traces of blood. The suspect was arrested in Styria and confessed shortly after.

Daniel L.’s colleagues described him as friendly and committed to his job.

For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

It’s always good to know your legal rights when living as a foreigner in Austria - including if you get in trouble with the police.

What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

Getting arrested is probably not high up on a list of must-dos for international residents in Austria, but it’s not a bad idea to know what would happen if you did.

In a nutshell, the process in Austria is similar to most other countries in that you have to be suspected of committing a crime to be arrested.

But what happens next? What are your rights? And how long can someone be held in custody?

Here’s what you need to know.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: What cyclists and drivers in Austria need to know about new rules

When can someone be arrested in Austria?

If someone is suspected of being a criminal, they can be arrested by the police and taken to a police station for questioning. 

Under the Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure, suspects must be informed of their rights as soon as possible, or at the very least before being interrogated by the police.

They also have a right to remain silent or to make a statement, as well as consult a lawyer.

According to Vienna-based attorney Evert Vastenburg, the initial detainment after arrest can last up to 48 hours while a judge decides whether a person should remain in custody or not.

A suspect can then be released on bail or under certain conditions, such as handing over a passport to police.

However, those suspected of serious crimes that typically lead to a prison sentence of 10 years or more (if found guilty) are almost always remanded in custody.

READ MORE: Austria wary of cyber attacks after personal data of foreign residents leaked online

When is someone remanded in custody?

To be refused bail and remanded in custody, there must be serious suspicion that another crime could be committed. 

The judge also must believe there is no other way to deal with the suspect. For example, he/she needs to be readily available to the authorities for questioning.

Another valid reason to keep someone in custody past the initial 48 hours is the risk of someone absconding. In fact, Vastenburg says a flight risk is often assumed with people that do not live and work in Austria.

Other reasons to deny a suspect release are a risk that evidence will be destroyed, witnesses will be contacted, or there is a possibility that further crimes will be committed.

What happens if bail is denied?

If bail is denied and a person must be held in custody for more than 48 hours, they have to be legally represented by a lawyer.

If a suspect can’t afford to hire a lawyer, they will be appointed a Verfahrenshilfe (public defender) by the state.

The case will be then reviewed by a judge on a regular basis to decide if custody should continue.

The first review will take place after 14 days, then at one month and every two months, but a suspect can petition for release at any time.

READ ALSO: Six tourist scams to be aware of in Austria

How many foreigners are in Austrian prisons?

According to data from the Austrian Judiciary, the number of foreigners in Austrian jails as of June 1st 2022 was 4,332 – almost 50 percent of all prisoners.

In relation to the statistics, the Austrian Judiciary states: “The high proportion of foreigners is one of many challenges for the Austrian penal system. 

“In particular, with regard to successful rehabilitation, the fastest possible transfer to the countries of origin is encouraged.

The most common nationality of foreign prisoners in Austria is Romanian, followed by people from the former Yugoslavian states, Hungary, Nigeria and Turkey.

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