Europe

Austrian police raid far-right leader’s home over link to NZ mosque attack accused

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Austrian intelligence agents searched the Vienna home of a far-right activist after a possible donation by accused Christchurch mosque gunman.

Austrian authorities have searched the home of a prominent far-right activist as part of a probe into his ties to the alleged Christchurch mosque gunman.

Martin Sellner, head of the white nationalist group Identitarian Movement of Austria, said on social media that police searched his apartment on Monday.

Electronic devices were seized after Sellner received a "disproportionately high donation" from a person named Tarrant, which is the surname as the accused Christchurch shooter.

Martin Sellner, leader of the right-wing populist Identitarian movement of Austria.
Martin Sellner, leader of the right-wing populist Identitarian movement of Austria.
DPA

Christoph Poelzl, spokesman for Austria's Interior Ministry, confirmed Tuesday that the country's domestic intelligence agency BVT searched the premises in Vienna at the request of prosecutors in the city of Graz.

Hansjoerg Bacher, a spokesman for Graz prosecutors, said they had stumbled across the donation as part of an existing probe into possible financial offences by Sellner.

"The purpose of the investigation is to examine links between Mr. Sellner and the Christchurch attacker," Bacher told Associated Press.

Mourners pay their respects for the 50 people slain in the mosque attack.
Mourners pay their respects for the 50 people slain in the mosque attack.
NYT

He declined to confirm when the donation took place, but said it was much higher than other contributions made to Sellner or his Identitarian Movement.

"Most donations were in the area of two-to-three figures, whereas this donation was in the low four-figure area," Bacher told AP. "This made it stand out, and the events in New Zealand put a face to this donation."

"We need to determine whether there is a connection and if so, whether it's criminally significant," said Bacher.

Sellner denied having anything to do with the March 15 massacre, in which 50 Muslims were killed in the southern New Zealand city.

"I had nothing to do with the attack," Sellner said in a video statement posted on YouTube, adding that he would donate the money to a charity.
Getty Images

"I had nothing to do with the attack," Sellner said in a video statement posted on YouTube, adding that he would donate the money to a charity.

He suggested the reason for the donation might have been to provoke repressive measures against "patriots".

Austrian authorities said last week that the Christchurch shooter visited Austria, but declined to confirm when or whether he met with any far-right activists during his trip.

Brenton Tarrant in court, charged with murder over the Christchurch mosque massacre.
Brenton Tarrant in court, charged with murder over the Christchurch mosque massacre.
AAP

Some of Tarrant's anti-Muslim views are echoed by the Identitarian Movement. The group is close to sections of the nationalist Freedom Party, which is part of the country's coalition government.

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