A suspected IS terrorist recruiter and his wife have been accused of fiddling 100,000 EUR in benefits by claiming to be political refugees despite renewing their passports and making trips home.
The man from the Russian federal region of Chechnya claim he faced victimisation back home, and together with his wife, their six children and his parents, was awarded political asylum.
Fly back to Russia without telling Austrian officials
They were also issued with documentation to replace their passports that allowed them in theory to travel anywhere in the world, apart, of course from Russia, which they had fled because of persecution. But the court in Graz in the south-eastern Austrian state of Styria heard that they had then renewed their Russian passports, and had even then used them to fly back to Russia without telling Austrian officials.
Benefits which totalled some 100,000 EUR
They also continued to claim benefits which totalled some 100,000 EUR (89,927 GBP) which they were not entitled to as renewing their Russian passports and travelling back home had effectively meant their original claim was untrue and therefore there asylum status was invalid. In Austria, political asylum ensures the family accommodation and a guaranteed minimum income with family allowance benefits.
In order to avoid being discovered with Russian passports, the court heard that the man had paid 1,600 EUR (1,439 GBP) to a distant relative to organise it for him, while his wife travelled to Poland to get hers.
Chairman of an islamic association
The man is allegedly the chairman of an association that, according to the public prosecution, does not recognise Austrian law and sends people to fight for the so-called Islamic State (IS). In his defence, the man said he had not realised renewing his Russian passport was a problem, despite saying during his asylum application that he was subject to victimisation in his homeland.
Public prosecutor Johannes Winklhofer rejected the suggestion saying: “You received asylum because you were politically persecuted in Russia. But then you arrange for a Russian passport, although you are allegedly persecuted there. “This is professional fraud and it doesn t fit together. You have supported your parents in the fraud, your family unit has illegally obtained by fraud money at the expense of the Republic of Austria.” The husband s parents have already reportedly been deported. The trial is ongoing.