17. 08. 12. - 16:25
Murdered lawyer was strangled to death
A post mortem on the body of lawyer Erich Rebasso who was found buried in a forest near Königstetten, Lower Austria three weeks after he went missing has revealed that he was strangled or throttled to death.
A hunter found Rebasso's body after he was kidnapped from outside his office in Vienna and then buried in a hidden grave.
The exact timing of the death has not yet been established. But it is thought he would have died shortly after capture.
The hunter saw a mound of earth just thirty metres away from the road as he walked through the forest yesterday morning (Thursday).
He called police as he thought it looked suspicious and as if something had been buried.
"The hunter said he was very familiar with the area as he was often there. He said when he saw the mound of earth he thought it was a bit suspicious. It was covered with leaves and twigs as if someone had tried to cover it up," said police spokesperson Roman Hahslinger.
When police arrived they found the body.
Vienna police confirmed that two Russians, a 31-year-old and a 35-year-old from a village 'far behind Moscow' have been arrested on suspicion of murder of the Vienna-based lawyer.
The two men were arrested in Moscow as part of a joint operation between Vienna police and Russian police. They are currently being questioned in Moscow.
Police confirmed that the two men arrested are the same two who rented a car in Vienna, where later blood traces of the lawyer were found.
The men had hired the car using their real passports in the Austrian capital allowing authorities to easily track them down.
Rebasso was last seen when he left his office at around 14.45 on a Friday afternoon nearly three weeks ago in Vienna to travel to an appointment in Lower Austria.
Police believe the lawyer was kidnapped after studying CCTV footage. The lawyer was seen going to his car in an underground car park, but footage of the car leaving the car park shows someone else at the wheel of his Mercedes.
After detective work police have been able to identify the kidnappers.
Rebasso's silver Mercedes was found in Vienna's Simmering district and there were traces of his blood on the car.
Andreas Rebasso the father of the lawyer said: "My son is a very correct person. He is a very talented Russian speaker. He won a Russian prize aged just 17. After completing school he began studying law.
"He never lost his interest in Russian language and culture. We were totally behind him when he started specialising in Russian clients."
Rebasso is a business lawyer who also deals with data protection and media law amongst other things.
Rebasso became well known in the mid 1990's when he represented Erika and Helmut Pilhar who were trying to stop a life-saving medical procedure from being carried out on their daughter Olivia.
Rebasso had numerous Russian clients but some years ago was named in a fraud case in Russia where between 25 and 30 investors were cheated out of between fifty and sixty thousand Euros each. Rebasso went to the police and claimed his name was wrongly being linked with the con, and he was not involved.
The lawyer then sought to clear himself of any involvement. The case was later dropped.
The lawyer nevertheless continued to receive threats via post.
The two men arrested were part of this group of Russian investors.
Rebasso’s father said: "My son didn’t have anything to do with these dealings. The fraudsters stole his letter headed paper.
"My son is not the type to be involved in dubious, dodgy business dealings."