Austrian court jails parents who took kids to live under IS

An Austrian court on Friday sentenced to up to 10 years in jail two couples who took their children to live in an IS-controlled part of Syria and showed them execution videos.

Austrian court jails parents who took kids to live under IS
An Islamic State flag being removed by a member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in Tabqa, Syria, in April 2017. File photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP
The two men and their wives travelled to Syria with their eight children — the youngest of whom was two years old — in December 2014, the trial in the southern city Graz heard.
Housed by the Islamic State extremist group, the children had to watch the gruesome videos for initiation and one seven-year-old boy was even present at a beheading.
Defendant Hasan O., 49, denied in court being a member of IS and said that he worked as a masseur treating injured fighters.
“I heard in the mosque (in Graz) that you can live according to Islam there, with freedom for the women and children,” he told the trial.
He just wanted to spend “10 or 12 days” there, he said.
The dream soon went sour, however, and the families fled Syria in April 2016. Turkey then extradited them to Austria and the children were taken into care.
All four — Hasan O. and his wife Kata O., Enes S. and his wife Michaela S. — were convicted of belonging to a terrorist organisation and of mistreating and neglecting children.
They were sentenced to 10 years behind bars except Kata O. who was given nine years. All except Austrian-born Muslim convert Michaela S. were from Bosnia but all had Austrian citizenship.
The judge said that the sentences were intended to show “that the state of Austria won't accept something like this”.
Austria has so far been spared the spate of Islamist extremist attacks suffered in recent years by other European countries.
However some 300 people from the 8.7-million-strong nation have travelled to Syria since the civil war there began, one of the highest numbers per capita in the European Union.


Austria expecting sunny weather this weekend after ‘coldest April since 1997’

After an unusually cold spring, warm sunshine is finally heading for Austria this Mother's Day weekend.

People enjoy sunny weather in Vienna's Stadtpark. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
People enjoy sunny weather in Vienna's Stadtpark. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Bright sunshine and summer temperatures are predicted for most of the country all weekend, with lovely weather forecast for Mother’s Day on Sunday. 

It’s a significant turn after what was the coldest April in more than two decades. 

The weather will be best in the west of Austria, though on Saturday morning it will be slightly frosty in some Alpine valleys. By Saturday afternoon, temperatures should be over 20 degrees in western Austria and up to 22 degrees in Vorarlberg and Tyrol up to 22 degrees. 

At heights above 2000m it will still be around minus 5 to minus 2 degrees in the morning, in the afternoon around zero degrees on the Schneeberg and 6 degrees in the Ötztal Alps.

On Sunday it will be much warmer. Temperatures will reach 19 degrees in the Bernsteiner and East Styrian areas and go up to 24 degrees around Vienna. 

In Vorarlberg and western Austria it could even get as warm as 28 or 29 degrees, with bright sunshine. However, it will feel cooler in Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland, due to brisk winds. 

Frosty nights have worried farmers, especially those tending to orchards such as these apricot trees in the Wachau Valley. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Coldest April since 1997

Spring has been unusually cold this year.

Broadcaster ORF reports it was the coldest April since 1997.

New records have even been set, with minus seven degrees celsius was measured at Graz Airport on April 8th and temperatures of minus 11.8 degrees Celsius recorded at Bad Mitterndorf the next day.