Austrian deportation chief fired

AP News
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Posted: Oct 15, 2010 5:39 PM

Austrian Interior Minister Maria Fekter on Friday fired the official who oversaw the detention and deportation of 8-year-old twins.

The sisters and their father were seized last week in an early morning raid and deported to Kosovo after being denied asylum and refusing to leave on their own. Their mother, who is in psychiatric care, stayed behind. The case sparked protests and has dominated debate for days.

Stefan Stortecky was removed from his post because the deportation lacked "sensitivity" and was not properly planned and carried out, Fekter spokesman Andreas Wallner said.

Fekter is under increasing pressure to be more lenient about allowing well-integrated foreign families to stay in Austria on humanitarian grounds if they don't meet the criteria for asylum.

Purple Sheep, a group fighting for the deported family and many others in similar situations, welcomed Fekter's decision to fire Stortecky.

"In Austria, it doesn't go without saying that ministers recognize mistakes and act accordingly," the group said in a statement.

But Michael Landau, who heads the Archdiocese of Vienna's chapter of Caritas, a Catholic charity, called for more far-reaching changes.