Fatal attack in Beirut in 1985 leads to proceedings in Vienna • NEWS.AT

The Vienna Public Prosecutor’s Office is currently investigating a previously unpunished fatal robbery in the Lebanese capital Beirut in 1985. The spokeswoman for the Vienna Public Prosecutor’s Office, Nina Bussek, confirmed a report on this in the Vienna city newspaper “Falter” on Thursday. Three brothers are said to have attacked a jeweler on March 28, 1985, killing the manager and four employees.

The perpetrators fled with gold, diamonds and cash worth more than 2.8 million euros according to today’s purchasing power. The brothers were caught soon after and, after confessing, put in jail. According to “Falter”, they were never convicted. In fact, they managed to escape from prison and go into hiding two years later in the turmoil of the Lebanese civil war. A further nine years later, the three were sentenced in absentia by an Iibanese military court to death and then to life imprisonment for murder. At first they remained in hiding.

In 2015, the daughter of the killed jeweler received clues as to the whereabouts of the alleged perpetrators: in Vienna, one of them is said to have run a jewelry shop himself. 15 survivors of the crime in Beirut joined forces and, represented by lawyer Norbert Haslhofer, initiated proceedings to prosecute the trio. According to “Falter”, the public prosecutor’s office opened a procedure in 2017, which, according to Bussek, is about the suspicion of aggravated robbery and murder.

This is still going on, but only against one of the three: According to the “Falter” one died, in the case of another, the act would have become statute-barred because on March 28, 1985 he was under 21 and therefore a young adult. Lebanon has also made an extradition request, but so far it has not been granted, according to Bussek, because the accused are or were Austrian citizens.

The public prosecutor’s office in Vienna is conducting proceedings in the sense of deputy criminal justice, but is dependent on documents from Lebanon. Large files were sent from Lebanon following a request for legal assistance. After these were translated, it turned out that they were not all the material. After a long time, after an additional request for legal assistance, an even larger bundle of files arrived, which the public prosecutor’s office is now waiting for the translation.

According to the city newspaper, the brother, who is still listed as a suspect, was stripped of his citizenship by the competent Vienna Municipal Department 35 because he applied for it under a false identity and also concealed the verdict against him in Lebanon. He appealed this decision to the Supreme Court, which was granted suspensive effect.

The relatives have now sent a petition to Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) and Interior Minister Gerhard Karner (ÖVP) demanding extradition, as Haslhofer confirmed to APA.