Austrian police found a family living illegally in a wine cellar
BERLIN – Austrian police said Monday that a 54-year-old man who attacked two social workers with pepper spray was spotted living illegally with his wife and six young children in a private wine cellar in northeastern Austria.
Police in Austria’s Lower Austria province were still trying to identify the six children, aged between 7 months and 5 years.
Neighbors in Obritz, near the Czech border, reported to local authorities last week that a family was living illegally in a local wine cellar.
“Residents sometimes hear the voices of children in the basement,” Deputy Mayor Erich Greil told Austrian TV channel ORF. “As soon as (the locals) got closer, everything calmed down.”
When two social workers arrived to check on the children last Thursday, police said the man attacked them with pepper spray and blocked the basement door.
Social workers who arrived at the scene called the police and arrested the man. When police searched the basement, they found a woman and six children who may have been the man’s partner and children.
Police also found several weapons, including a rifle, a crossbow and an air gun.
According to police, the man said the children were born in England. Police said they were not officially registered in Austria and were working to confirm the children’s identities.
The children were taken to a nearby hospital, where they were not left unattended and were not injured,” said a police spokesman. They are now under the care of the social sector.
Local media reported that the man was a follower of the so-called “Reichsbuerger” or “Reich Citizens” movement. The right-wing conspiracy group believes that the division of Germany by the Allied Powers and subsequent democracies after World War II was illegal, instead arguing that the original Reich still exists.
A Lower Austria police spokesman would not confirm whether the man was affiliated with Reich Citizens.
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