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CRIME

Vienna sex offender suspect arrested in Czech Republic

Police have arrested a dangerous sex offender who’s suspected of raping at least two women.

Vienna sex offender suspect arrested in Czech Republic
A police photo of the suspect. Image: BPD Wien

The 35-year-old man, who is originally from Turkey, is believed to be responsible for two violent rapes in 2013 in Znojmo in the Czech Republic. He’s also suspected of physically assaulting a woman in Vienna in 2015, as well as an attempted rape earlier this year. Police are appealing for any further victims to come forward.

The man was arrested a few days ago in the Czech Republic and extradited to Vienna, where he’s a resident. He’s been charged with four criminal offences and is being held in pretrial custody.

“The two rapes took place in April and June 2013,” police spokesman Thomas Keiblinger said. In the first case, a 19-year-old woman was assaulted on a lawn in a public space. The second victim was only 18 at the time, and she was also strangled and beaten.

In 2015 he allegedly followed a 21-year-old woman home in the Ottakring district of Vienna, where he also lives. He physically attacked her but her neighbours heard her screaming and came to her help and he fled. In August he is accused of dragging a 26-year-old woman into a bush in Ottakring and attempting to rape her. Luckily a group of people who were passing by noticed what was happening and scared him off.

Police in Vienna were able to find traces of the suspect’s DNA and track him down. One of his victims also recognised him from a photo. The accused denies all the charges.

He is described as 1.70 meters tall and slender, but strong. Detectives say he changed his appearance several times since 2013, with different hairstyles and beard lengths.

Vienna police are asking anyone who may have been assaulted by the suspect to contact them on 01/31310-33 800.


 

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CRIME

Does Austria have a street car racing problem?

A fatal accident involving a speeding driver in the streets of Austria's capital Vienna has once again sparked the debate about illegal car racing in the country.

Does Austria have a street car racing problem?

A 26-year-old man sped through the streets of central Vienna in his Mercedes on a Sunday evening.

After he failed to stop at a red light he mowed into a car being driven by a 48-year-old woman. She later died in hospital.

The police had said a video recorder at the time of the accident showed evidence the driver was taking part in some kind of illegal race. Even though a Vienna court later said it saw “no evidence at all” that indicates street racing, the debate was already ignited.

Does Austria, and especially Vienna, have an illegal car racing problem?

According to the Viennese police, there are no statistics specifically for street racing. However, “there is an active racing scene in Vienna”, spokesperson Markus Dittrich told The Local.

READ ALSO: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

Estimates put the number of “members of the illegal scene” in Vienna between 800 to 1,000 people. Current hotspots are still the area around Kahlenberg, Triester Straße, the Oberlaa area and the Kagran business park.

The police measured instances of speeding and from April to August 2022, around 6,500 reports were placed in the capital and 30 driving licenses were confiscated on site.

What are the police currently doing?

“In order to take decisive action against the active racing scene, checks have been significantly increased.”

“Furthermore, coordinated traffic planning checks are being carried out by the Vienna police department and various city police commands, and the relevant municipal departments are also involved”, Dittrich said.

In August, the City of Vienna took action in one of the “hotspots” for racing, adding 65 concrete barriers to prevent races in the car park in Kahlenberg, as The Local reported.

As racers move to different areas once blocks are put in place, the police also resort heavily on the two consequences it can impose: high fines and the revocation of driving licenses.”.

READ ALSO: Vienna wants to take action against speeding drivers

Fines can reach up to €5,000 on higher offences, such as driving 40 km/h or more over the speeding limit in a city (or 50 km/h above limits on a road). In addition, driving licences can be withheld for one month or three months in the case of repeated offences.

From an excess of 80 km/h, the license is taken away for half a year.

Calls for changes in the law

The recent debate in Austria has also now brought the issue of possible changes in the law, with experts claiming that the current legislation might not be sufficient.

Illegal racing is not a crime per se, but offences such as “endangering physical safety” or “deliberate endangerment of the public” are applied. If people are killed or injured, the crime is negligence – with up to three years in prison possible for those convicted of grossly negligent homicide.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about driving on the autobahn in Austria

Some are asking for “zero tolerance“, saying that the crimes should not be seen as negligence but as murder – those who drive too fast or under the influence of alcohol take a risk knowing they might kill someone.

Others, however, say that turning negligence into murder holds a trap. “Attempted murder is also punishable. So the penalty for just participating in an illegal auto race where nothing happened? In practice, for example, 12 years in prison for 350 meters of a car race on Triester Straße?” wrote Constitutional Court member Dr Michael Rami on Twitter.

Still, the head of the legal services at Austria’s traffic authority ÖAMTC, Martin Hoffer, told public broadcaster ORF: “To prove murder against someone, you, of course, have to prove the corresponding intentionality”.

“That doesn’t mean a specific intention to kill a certain person, but to seriously consider it possible (and to accept) that someone may die in that situation.” So, a racing driver may not set out to kill someone, but they acknowledge that their actions could result in somebody’s death.

That could be a realistic scenario in an illegal race – and the debate in Austria continues.

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