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Austria drops probe into far-right activists over New Zealand massacre

Austrian prosecutors said Friday they had dropped an inquiry into far-right activists over possible links with the perpetrator of a massacre of Muslims in New Zealand in 2019.

Austria drops probe into far-right activists over New Zealand massacre
Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

Martin Sellner, the co-founder of the Identitarian Movement of Austria (IBOe), came under investigation together with some of his associates when it emerged that in 2018 he had received a donation of 1,500 euros ($1,800) from Brenton Tarrant.

White supremacist Tarrant killed 51 Muslim worshippers in attacks on two mosques in the city of Christchurch in March 2019.

Sellner admitted to having had contact with Tarrant on several occasions and prosecutors looked into whether charges could be brought against him or those close to him for “participation in a terrorist organisation”.

ANALYSIS: Vienna terror attack was 'only a matter of time' 

But the spokesman for the prosecutors' department in the city of Graz, Hansjoerg Bacher, confirmed to AFP that the investigation had been “dropped”.

Sellner's house was also searched as part of the investigation, but a court ruled in 2019 that the raid was illegal.

Sellner told AFP on Friday that investigations targeting his wife and the IBOe as an organisation had also been dropped last month.

Austrian media report that another investigation against Sellner for suspected fraud is however ongoing. The IBOe has been described by Austrian intelligence services as “agents of modern right-wing extremism”.

Sellner and the Identitarians are proponents of the far-right “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory according to which white Europeans are being deliberately supplanted by non-white immigrants.

Tarrant's manifesto was also titled “The Great Replacement”.

The Identitarians are also known for anti-immigrant stunts such as a 2017 incident in which members gained access to the roof of the Turkish embassy in Vienna, unfurling a banner addressing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and reading: “Erdogan, take your Turks home.”

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

‘Decomposing smell’: Austrian police called due to smelly shoes

Austria's police department said they were called to an apartment complex in Vienna after a person was concerned about a "smell of decomposition".

'Decomposing smell': Austrian police called due to smelly shoes

This week, the Viennese police department started a weekly ‘series’ of sharing interesting stories on their social media accounts

Calling the series ‘Misunderstanding Wednesday’ (Missverständnismittwoch), the very first post is about a call they received to an apartment complex after a concerned citizen complained to emergency services about a “smell of decomposition in the staircase”.

READ ALSO: Stephansdom: Vienna woken up after hacker sets church bells to ring at 2am

The alleged corpse, it turns out, was just the neighbour’s smelly shoes which were left in the building corridor, in front of their apartment.

The police didn’t say when exactly the incident took place.

“When our colleagues are called because of the ‘smell of decomposition in the staircase’… and notice that the stunk is from the neighbour’s shoes which were left in front of the apartment door”, the official Twitter account of the Vienna police department reads.

‘When in doubt it is an emergency’

The authorities were light-hearted about the misunderstanding, even sharing a “meme-like” picture on their social media accounts, saying “some missions turn out to be different than initially assumed”.

READ ALSO: Austrian police warn public about new ‘fake cops’ scam

However, they reiterated that the misunderstandings should not deter people from calling 133, the emergency police number. They added that in case of emergencies and even if you are not sure, the authorities should be called and they will assist you.

“Note: in case of doubt, it is an emergency”, the Vienna police department says. “Never be afraid to dial the emergency number.”

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