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CRIME

Outrage in Austria over ninth woman is murdered in 2021

The ninth killing of a woman in Austria this year sparked outrage and promises of action from the government on Friday, with the latest victim a 35-year-old mother of two.

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The city hall in Vienna with two screens projecting hygiene measures to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic on April 12, 2021. JOE KLAMAR / AFP

The woman died after being shot late on Thursday in a northern district of the capital Vienna, prompting the interior ministry to announce a summit next week to discuss ways of addressing the spate of killings of women by their ex-partners.

Police confirmed to AFP that a 42-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of committing the murder with a handgun.

According to Austrian media, the suspect in the latest murder is a man who hit headlines in 2018 when a Green politician Sigrid Maurer accused him of sending her obscene Facebook messages.

Maurer said she had gone public with the case in order to draw attention to the problem of online harassment.

The man denied writing the messages, saying they had been written by someone else from a computer used by customers at the bar he runs and sued Maurer for defamation.

A court ruling backed him, saying that Maurer should have taken more care to establish whether he really did write the messages.

But the man later dropped the complaint, with Maurer being exonerated.

The case drew much attention in Austria with the initial decision against Maurer being condemned by feminist activists and others.

READ ALSO: Man held after homemade bomb leaves his ex-wife with serious burns

On Friday, Maurer said that “the fact that it seems the culprit was the bar owner is personally shocking to me”.

Women’s Minister Susanne Raab was one of many other politicians to react to Thursday’s “shocking murder”, saying she was “profoundly saddened”.

Green Transport Minister Leonore Gewessler was visibly moved as she called for more action on the issue at a press conference.

Austrian media have been raising the alarm over high levels of femicide, with 31 killings of women in 2020.

One of the country’s most important news weeklies, Profil, devoted an issue to the subject recently and cited Eurostat figures showing that Austria was the only country in which more women than men were victims of violent crime.

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DISCOVER AUSTRIA

Donauinselfest: What you need to know about Austria’s biggest open air festival

Austria has the largest free open-air festival in Europe, and the Donauinselfest is taking place this weekend. Here is what you need to know.

Donauinselfest: What you need to know about Austria's biggest open air festival

The Austrian Donauinselfest is known as the largest free open-air music festival in Europe, and it happens yearly on Vienna’s Danube island. The festival attracts around three million visitors over its three days of events and is starting on Friday in the Austrian capital.

The festival has been taking place yearly since 1983 on the 21.1-kilometre river island. This year, it has 14 different areas and 11 stages, according to the official website. Visitors can expect more than 600 hours of program.

READ ALSO: The best festivals and events to enjoy in Austria this summer

Here is what you need to know to enjoy the programme fully.

When and where is the festival?

The festival has an extensive range of events starting on Friday, June 24th, and lasting until Sunday, June 26th. It takes place on the island between the new Danube and the Danube rivers, known as the Donauinsel.

READ ALSO: 7 things to know about driving in Austria this summer

It is easily accessible via the U1 (Donauinsel station) and U6 (Handelskai station) metro and there are no parking spaces available near the festival site.

Admission to the event is free.

The festival is back after the pandemic

After two years of reduced capacity and many Covid-19 restrictions, the Donauinselfest is back to (almost) normal. There is no limit to the number of visitors, no requirement to show proof of vaccination or recovery from the disease, and no mask mandate.

However, the authorities have asked that people take “personal responsibility” as coronavirus infection numbers have been rising.

READ ALSO: Five of the best things to do in Vienna this summer

The organisers have requested people to get tested before visiting the vast festival, Vienna.at reported.

People gather on the shores of the Danube river, in Vienna during a hot sunny day and Danube Day on June 29, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN

“We ask everyone who would like to visit the Donauinselfest this year to take a PCR or rapid test in advance and thus protect themselves and others. People with symptoms are not allowed to enter the festival grounds.”, said organiser Matthias Friedrich.

Though masks are not mandatory, they are recommended on-site if it is too full of people and no social distancing is possible. Besides, there is a masks requirement to all Donauinselfest workers in indoor areas.

Watch out for what you cannot bring

There is an extensive list of things that are not allowed on the festival site. For example, visitors are not allowed to take large bags and backpacks (“A3 format”, according to the website). However, a gym bag is not considered a backpack.

Animals, including dogs, are prohibited – except for guide dogs and service dogs.

You are also not allowed to bring umbrellas, alcoholic beverages, cans, glass bottles, or drones. The list of prohibited items includes “propaganda material”, spray bottles, whistles, large or bulky objects, bicycles and skateboards, stools and chairs, food and more.

Check out the complete list here.

Danube festival

Vienna’s “Danube-island” Festival will return this weekend. (Photo by DIETER NAGL / AFP)

READ ALSO: Forecast: Austria set for high temperatures and storms throughout weekend and beyond

You can – and should – bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as temperatures are expected to be around the 30Cs over the next few days.

What kind of music is there?

The festival has several stages and a broad programme selection. The bands are usually more regional, with a significant presence of Austrian, German, and Italian bands.

You can find all sorts of music, from pop to rock, rap, and techno. There are even tribute bands like Break Free, which will play Queen’s best signs on the rock stage.

The program includes other activities as well, such as poetry slam, art stages, sport areas, and even events for families and children.

You can check the official program here.

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