Nine Iraqi asylum seekers have appeared in court in Vienna charged with the gang rape of a 28 year old teacher on New Years’ Eve 2015. One of the men has admitted to his part in the attack.
The defendants, all members of the same family, have been charged with “abuse of a defenceless person and rape in a very humiliating and agonising way for the victim.” All were recent arrivals to Austria, having traveled to the country via the Balkan route between May and December 2015.
At the time of the attack five had already received leave to stay in Austria, while the remaining four were still waiting for their applications to be processed.
As proceedings opened on Tuesday the court heard that the victim, identified as Sabine K, arrived in Vienna on 28 December to spend the new year with a friend. As midnight on the 31st approached the pair headed into town to join in with celebrations, and at 2am were seen drinking the Cactus bar and restaurant, the Daily Mail has reported.
Shortly before 3am Sabine’s friend noticed that she was no longer there and was told by another patron that she had been taken away, blind drunk, by a group of men she had been talking to.
Four of the men, Nazar Al-J., Mohammed Al-T., Alaa Al-J and Mohamed Al-A., escorted her to an apartment in Vienna’s Rustenschacher Allee, where their five relatives, Hader Al-A., Mustafa Al-J., Nael Al-J., Marwan Al-J. and Sabah Al-J., were waiting.
Sabine later said she found herself naked on a double bed being assaulted by the men, aged between 22 and 45, in turn. She said she yelled at them in German: “No, I don’t want this”, then in English: “Listen to me just a little bit.”
Medical experts testified that she was raped multiple times and sodomised; her injuries were such that she required in patient treatment at a trauma clinic.
Her lawyer, Karina Fehringer, told the court that she was assaulted in the dark so that she could not identify the men. However, following the attack, which lasted approximately two hours, Mohammed Al-T. took her to a toilet within the apartment where he took a selfie with her on his mobile phone.
Later he and Alaa Al-J. escorted her to a local tram stop, where they tried to stop her sobbing by telling her in English “don’t cry”.
After Sabine went to the police, officers were able to use a tracking app on her mobile phone to identify the rape scene. The app showed that her ordeal lasted two hours, between 4.20 and 6.20 on the morning of 1 January 2016.
DNA evidence found in or on Sabine’s body tied six of the men to the attack, while Mohamed al-A has admitted to his role in the horrific attack, breaking down in court as he admitted he was “really drunk” on vodka at the time despite his Muslim faith banning the consumption of alcohol.
“This act is a crime in Iraq”, he admitted.
His relatives have all denied their involvement; one claimed that she had been “offered” to them by relatives, while another insisted that she had been a willing participant in what had occurred.
Following the attack Sabine has been receiving psychiatric treatment for post traumatic stress disorder and at the weekend, ahead of the trial, had a second breakdown leaving her to fragile to appear in court.
The trial concludes on Thursday, with sentencing expected to take place in March. If found guilty the men have been warned they face up to 15 years each in jail.