Nazi slave labour camp attackers face higher sentences

Teens who were given suspended jail terms for firing plastic bullets at a group of Third Reich era labour camp survivors may be have their sentences upped as the state prosecution appealed the verdicts.The three male friends aged between 15 and 17 verbally abused the group of Italians and Frenchmen while goose-stepping in front of them at a former stone quarry in Ebensee, Upper Austria, in May of last year. Almost 9,000 slave labourers died at the site between 1943 and 1945.They then shot plastic bullets with their airsoft guns at them, hitting two elderly men. The attackers were tracked down days after the incident which caused outcry and heated debate in Austria and over the world.The trio admitted their wrongdoings, and one of them apologised to the attacked group in a letter. They, however, vehemently denied in court last week that they were neo-Nazis.It emerged shortly after the incident hit the headlines that one of the suspects was a member of the Kinderfreunde and the Red Falcons, two youth leisure time activities organisations run by the ruling Social Democrats (SPÖ).The Provincial Court in Wels announced today (Thurs) that the verdicts – suspended sentences of five to six months – were not yet legally binding as prosecutors had decided to appeal. The court explained this meant the acquittal of a fourth teenage suspect was the only legally recognised verdict in the case.Meanwhile, an Austrian solider is facing a trial for giving the Hitler Salute while on an international peacekeeping mission.The 19-year-old member of the army’s militia branch is accused of racially insulting Bosnians and an Austrian solider of Turkish origin at a recent birthday party in Bosnia-Herzegovina.The accused soldier has been suspended and sent home. He faces an army-internal disciplinary hearing and a public trial as prosecutors have started investigating.