Neo-Nazis tried for letter bombs

Two self-confessed neo-Nazis accused of being behind a wave of xenophobically inspired letter bombs went on trial in Vienna yesterday.

Peter Binder and Franz Radl deny involvement in the December 1993 bombings which injured four people. But they admit to being former members of an extreme right-wing group which had aimed to overthrow the Austrian Republic and restore a Nazi state.

If found guilty, the two men, both 28, could face between 20 years and life imprisonment. But a conviction will be difficult. As the trial opened on Monday, state prosecutors admitted the evidence was circumstantial.

It is already clear that others may have been involved in the bombings. Since Mr Radl and Mr Binder were arrested in December 1993, there have been two more waves of letter bombings and various terrorist actions, the worst of which claimed the lives of four gypsies earlier this year.

An obscure right-wing group that calls itself the "Bavarian Liberation Army" has even claimed responsibility for the bombs, nearly all of which have been aimed at prominent Austrians known for their support for minorities.

The letter-bombs and the racially motivated killings have shocked most Austrians, who are used to seeing their country as a cosy sanctuary from the neo-Nazi violence afflicting neighbouring Germany. They have also prompted criticism of the police, widely seen as being ineffective in its pursuit of the culprits and accused by some of harbouring sympathies for right- wing extremists.

Over the coming month about 130 witnesses are expected to testify in the trial, including Helmut Zilk, the former mayor of Vienna and a champion of the city's Jewish and minority communities who lost three fingers on his left hand when he opened one of 10 letter bombs sent in the first wave in December 1993.

Another key witness is likely to be Gottfried Kussel, the former leader of the now banned Vapo neo-Nazi group to which Mr Binder and Mr Radl both belonged. Kussel personally supervised paramilitary training sessions for his followers, and is serving an 11-year jail sentence for neo-Nazi activity.

In testimony yesterday, Mr Binder, a trained electrical engineer, admitted he had the technical knowledge required to build letter bombs, but denied that he had acted on it. He denied that a stockpile of grenades and TNT explosives discovered at his home shortly before his arrest had been amassed on behalf of Vapo.

In today's hearing, Radl, a law student, is due to answer accusations that he drew up the hit-list for the letter bomb attacks. In addition to Mr Zilk, those targeted included a priest, a television journalist and several human rights activists.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London