Swiss suspects in Vienna attack ‘already faced terror charges’

Two young Swiss men arrested following Monday's gun attack in Vienna were already the targets of criminal cases over terrorism offences, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Swiss suspects in Vienna attack 'already faced terror charges'
Hastily left drinks are seen on a table outside a restaurant near the scene of a terrorist attack, in Vienna, Austria. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

Federal MPC prosecutors opened the cases “in 2018 and 2019, and they are ongoing,” the office said in a statement.

One of the two men, aged 24, is a defendant in one of the cases, while the other, aged 18, is standing trial as a minor.

Zurich prosecutors told AFP that the 18-year-old, currently “in custody”, was known to their colleagues in nearby Winterthur who “have been dealing with the radicalisation phenomenon for several years”.

The investigation targeting the younger man before the Vienna attack came under Switzerland's law banning Al-Qaeda and the “Islamic State” (IS) group and related organisations.

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

The MPC said that the men “knew” the attacker who killed four with an assault rifle in central Vienna on Monday evening, and Swiss authorities are working with their Austrian counterparts to clarify the links between the three.

Winterthur prosecutors in 2017 brought charges against an Ethiopian imam at the local An'Nur mosque after he called for the murder of non-practising Muslims.

And in September, Switzerland's Federal Criminal Court handed a four-year jail sentence to an IS supporter in his 30s dubbed the “emir of Winterthur” by the media for his prominent role in the local Islamist scene.

The MPC has around 70 criminal cases open in relation to terrorism with a jihadist motive, most over propaganda or recruitment for terrorist organisations, terrorist financing and against those who have travelled or sought to travel abroad to fight for jihadist groups.

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Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

A Frenchwoman and a Spaniard were killed and nine other mountaineers were injured on Friday in an ice fall in southwest Switzerland, police said following a rescue attempt involving several helicopters.

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

Police received calls at 6.20 am reporting that mountaineers had been caught up in falling seracs — columns of glacial ice formed by crevasses — on the Grand Combin, a glacial massif near the Italian border in the Wallis region.

Seven helicopters with mountain rescue experts flew to the scene, finding 17 mountaineers split among several groups.

“Two people died at the scene of the accident,” Wallis police said in a statement. They were a 40-year-old Frenchwoman and a 65-year-old man from Spain.

Nine mountaineers were airlifted to hospitals in nearby Sion and in Lausanne. Two of them are seriously injured, police said.

Other mountaineers were evacuated by helicopter.

The regional public prosecutor has opened an investigation “to determine the circumstances of this event”, the police said.

The serac fall happened at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Plateau de Dejeuner section along the Voie du Gardien ascent route.

The Grand Combin massif has three summits above 4,000 metres, the highest of which is the Combin de Grafeneire at 4,314 metres.

The police issued a note of caution about setting off on such high-altitude expeditions.

“When the zero-degree-Celsius isotherm is around 4,000 metres above sea level, it is better to be extra careful or not attempt the route if in doubt,” Wallis police said.

“The golden rule is to find out beforehand from the mountain guides about the chosen route and its current feasibility.”