The suspects were arrested during August 13-14 raids in Vienna and two other Austrian provinces. Aged 21-47, the men are either refugees or asylum seekers.
The victim, a 28-year old woman from the northern German state of Lower Saxony, was visiting Vienna for New Year’s Eve. Celebrating at the city center near Schwedenplatz Station after midnight on January, 1, 2016, she became separated from a friend and remembers being taken by a group of men before becoming unconscious.
The next morning she turned to police, saying she couldn’t recall the exact events of the previous evening, but that something bad had happened, according to the police report.
Using street surveillance camera footage, investigators found that the suspects picked up the victim on the street and took her to an apartment where two of the men lived. They then reportedly raped her.
The suspects have denied the accusations, claiming that the victim was on drugs. The victim insists she only drank alcohol during celebrations.
“The presumed perpetrators are likely to have taken advantage of the female victim’s high level of inebriation,” Vienna police said in a statement.
According to police spokesperson Paul Eidenberger, DNA tests have proved that at least four of those arrested are implicated, but stated that “all were involved.”
Prosecutors, suspecting that the asylum-seekers are a flight risk, have asked the court to keep the men in custody during the investigation.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East have entered Europe in 2015, and there have been many documented crimes of sexual abuse, attack, and rape. Over one hundred sexual assaults on women were registered in the German city of Cologne on New Year’s Eve, causing a backlash against refugees.
The rapes and attacks in Cologne have occurred concurrently with similar events in neighboring Austria, which, since the beginning of the current migrant crisis, has tacitly acted as an entrance country to the rest of Europe from the Balkans. The rapes and attacks by migrants have resulted in Vienna strengthening border control.