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German police raid flats and offices over Vienna attack

German police said Friday they are raiding apartments and offices over possible links to the Austrian Islamic State sympathiser who went on a deadly gun rampage in central Vienna.

German police raid flats and offices over Vienna attack
A German police siren. Photo: DPA

The sites in Osnabrück, Kassel as well as in the Pinneberg area that were searched belong to four people, who “are not believed to be involved in the attack,” said the federal criminal agency (BKA).

“But there may be links to the alleged assassin,” it added on Twitter.

The searches were carried out on a request from the Austrian authorities and were aimed at “securing material that could be proof”.

“Two of the individuals are believed to have met the suspected assailant in July 2020 in Vienna,” the agency added.

The gunman, identified as 20-year-old dual Austrian-Macedonian national Kujtim Fejzulai, was killed by police after going on a shooting spree in Vienna on Monday evening that left four people dead.

Austrian police detained 14 people in the wake of the shooting, the first major attack in the country for decades and the first blamed on a jihadist.

Germany's Der Spiegel magazine had reported earlier this week that the Vienna attacker had made contact with German Islamists during an attempt to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group.

The investigation has also led to Switzerland, where prosecutors have confirmed that two Swiss men aged 18 and 24 who were arrested Wednesday had already been the targets of criminal cases over terrorism offences.

READ ALSO: Half of those arrested after Vienna attack 'had previous terrorism or violence convictions'

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CRIME

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

Following the suicide of an Austrian doctor who received threats from Covid-19 anti-vaccination activists, the government has now launched a new campaign to help victims of online abuse.

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

The Austrian medical community was left in shock in July when Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a local doctor in Seewalchen am Attersee in Upper Austria, took her own life following months of online abuse.

Kellermayr, 36, had been targeted by anti-vaccination activists and Covid-19 conspiracy theorists for her out-spoken support of vaccines, and the abuse even included death threats. 

Her death prompted candlelight vigils and demonstrations in Vienna and the tragic story was picked up by news outlets around the world.

READ MORE: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

This led to calls for tighter laws against online bullying and the ability for perpetrators to be prosecuted in other EU countries – particularly as at least two of the people who are believed to have targeted Kellermayr are based in Germany, according to the Guardian.

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has even called for the creation of a special public prosecutor’s office to deal with “hate-on-the-net”, but this has been rejected by prosecutors and other political parties, as reported by ORF.

Instead, the Federal Justice Department has launched a new information campaign, website and hotline to help people dealing with online abuse.

FOR MEMBERS: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

What is in the new campaign?

Austria’s Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) said they have launched the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to inform victims about the support available.

Zadic said: “It is important to me that those affected know that they are not alone in this situation and that the judiciary supports them with free psychological and legal process support.”

“You don’t have to cope alone with the extraordinary burdens that criminal proceedings can entail, for example through confrontation with the perpetrators.”

READ ALSO: Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Part of the support package is the new website Hilfe bei Gewalt (Help with Violence), which details how to access help from the authorities, as well as secure free legal advice and representation from a lawyer.

The website states the service is for victims of bullying and/or hate online, defamation, stalking, terrorism, incitement, sexual violence and robbery.

The service is designed to be anonymous with options to contact the Justice Department by phone or via a chat box. The website also lists contact details for regional support services in all provinces across Austria. 

The free (kostenlos) hotline for Hilfe bei Gewalt is 0800 112 112.

Useful links

Hilfe bei Gewalt

Austrian Federal Justice Department

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