Dead mice sent to mayor

An Upper Austrian mayor has received a praline box containing two dead mice and an anonymous, threatening letter, according to website Ernhard, the Social Democratic (SPÖ) mayor of Ansfelden in Upper Austria’s Linz-Land district, confirmed the report and said today (Fri) he was very disturbed by the package.Ernhard said he had received it on 2 February but had told his secretary he would not eat the pralines he had thought were inside it since he remembered that People’s Party (ÖVP) Mayor Hannes Hirtzberger of Spitz an der Donau, Lower Austria, had been poisoned by a “mon cheri” praline from a box he had found on the windscreen of his car in 2008.When Ernhard opened the box addressed to him, he found two dead mice inside and a handwritten letter blaming him for the town’s poor financial state.Police said neither Ernhard nor they had a suspect in mind. Police added that it appeared from the handwriting that the writer was an old person.Ernhard said that anyone who received such a package could only wonder what would come next.Upper Austrian security director Alois Lißl agreed, saying sending the package had not been illegal but was “far from a joke” and had to be taken seriously. “Such a thing is often only the beginning of a long period of harassment,” he said.The Austrian High Court earlier increased Heuriger (wine tavern) owner Helmut Osberger’s sentence from 20 years to life in prison in March 2009 for the “mon cheri” praline poisoning of Spitz Mayor Hirtzberger.A lower court had convicted Osberger, 56, a resident of Spitz an der Donau in Lower Austria’s Wachau region, of attempted murder and sentenced him to 20 years in prison in May 2008.Hirtzberger fell seriously ill on 9 February 2008 after eating a “Mon Cheri” from a box of chocolates he had found on his car’s windscreen.The praline was laced with strychnine, and the poison has since caused irreversible damage to Hirtzberger’s brain. He returned home after nine months in intensive care at a local hospital but remains in a vegetative state.