Convict beats up wife during ankle tag release

A convict allowed to spend the final months of his jail term at home wearing an electronic ankle shackle has been sent back to prison after having beaten up his wife.The 27-year-old man was arrested in Hohenems, Vorarlberg, and put behind bars in again in a prison in Feldkirch after his wife, 35, told police he beat her up when a family-internal argument got out of control on last Sunday’s Boxing Day.Judges ruled recently the convicted fraudster can serve the last remaining months of his term at home with an electronic shackle tied to his ankle. Ninety convicts serving terms in prisons across the country were equipped with the device which alarms local police and jail officials if the person wearing it breaks the house arrest.The Hohenems incident is the first case of a breach of regulations regarding the ankle tag release model which was introduced by the government coalition of the Austrian Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) earlier this year.Police in Vorarlberg announced today (Tues) investigations into the violent incident involving the convict were ongoing. One spokesman said all four family members involved in the reported feud were seriously drunk. He explained the convict may not have been the only person who became violent in the incident which put him back into prison.Justice ministry official Peter Prechtl stressed last week there have so far been no incidents in the electronic shackle release programme apart from a few false alarms. Prechtl explained there were many cases of convicts informing police they might not be at home from short outings they were allowed to go on in time due to traffic tailbacks caused by strong snowfall.Commentators have been at loggerheads over whether the electronic ankle tag programme – on which the government allegedly spent two million Euros – is a good idea.ÖVP Justice Minister Claudia Bandion-Ortner defended the model as a good way to take pressure off strained prison wardens working in over-crowded jails while her ministry works on a reform which should substantially improve the situation in the country’s prisons.Hermann Gerharter, former general director of now defunct supermarket chain Konsum, is the most prominent convict who was released early in the programme.Banker Helmut Elsner, who was sentenced to nine and a half years for embezzlement and fraud following the near collapse of BAWAG bank two years ago, had however several applications for a participation in the programme rejected.Elsner, whose condition deteriorated dramatically since 2008 due to a cardiac disease, has been kept in preventive custody ever since the sentence in the headline-hitting trial was spoken out. Judges argued Elsner – whose legal team appealed the verdict – could take the opportunity to flee the country.”My husband can barely walk 100 metres on his own. He is in a very bad condition. This is a juridical scandal. I’m shocked and disgusted,” his wife Ruth recently said.Wolfgang Auer-Welsbach, who is accused of embezzlement, fraud and tax evasion in connection with the bankruptcy of financial company AvW, was not allowed to take part in the electronic either. The businessman is currently in custody in Klagenfurt as prosecutors are preparing to press charges.