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Asylum seekers are human traffickers, claim

By Rob Hyde


Following widespread protest at the deportation of the “abbey asylum seekers”, Vienna state prosecution has announced that 3 are human traffickers.

The prosecution says that Azhar I., Ali S. and Sabtain S., whose surnames have been withheld for legal reasons, managed to smuggle around 1,000 people from Pakistan to Austria, France and Scandinavia via the Balkan states in recent months.

Each smuggler is alleged to have been paid up to 10,000 Euro per person they manage to illegally bring into to Austria or elsewhere.

8 Pakistani asylum seekers used to stay at the Votivkirche church in Vienna but moved to the Serviten abbey in March this year. Since then they have often been referred to as the “abbey asylum seekers.”

They were recently arrested, however, and the day before yesterday four were deported. It was this event which sparked off a series of demonstrations in Vienna, including at the airport and outside the internal ministry.

The catholic charity, Caritas, has been monitoring the situation for many months, and persistently defending the rights of the asylum seekers.

Just yesterday it even claimed that it had been lied to by authorities. Here general secretary Klaus Schwertner said that just days before some of the Pakistani men deported, he had been assured by authorities that there were no official plans to deport them.

In light of these recent revelations Mr Schwertner has since pledged to cooperate with the asylum authorities, but stressed that “individual black sheep” should not be allowed to tarnish the reputation of all refugees.

He said: “Because of these individual cases there cannot be a general criminalization of all refugees.”

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