November 20, 2015 / 2:46 PM / 4 years ago

Send militants to EU island jail, Austrian far-right leader says

VIENNA (Reuters) - The European Union should build an island prison to which convicted militants can be banished for the rest of their lives, Austrian far-right leader Heinz-Christian Strache said on Friday, demanding tougher sentences after the Paris attacks.

Head of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPOe) Heinz-Christian Strache addresses a news conference in Vienna, Austria, November 20, 2015. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

A separate facility is needed to prevent militant Islamists from coming into contact with other prisoners and indoctrinating them, said Strache, whose opposition Freedom Party regularly comes first in national opinion polls.

“I need a European prison for these worst offenders and Islamist terrorists and murderers,” Strache told a news conference in Vienna on measures needed to fight terrorism.

“It can also be an island,” he added, listing proposals such as stripping jihadists of their nationality.

Within a day of last week’s rampage through the French capital in which 130 people were killed, populist politicians around Europe rushed to demand an end to an influx of migrants, many of them fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Strache has argued that Austria should stop letting migrants stream across its border as it has done since early September. Hundreds of thousands have entered the country in the past two months, the overwhelming majority on their way to Germany.

He did not say the current mass movement of people into Europe was to blame for the Paris attacks, which were claimed by Islamic State and in which many of the assailants were French and of foreign descent.

Asked whether he had any particular island in mind for the proposed prison, Strache had a short list of suggestions.

“Maybe the Greeks will help us,” he said. The Greek islands have been a major port of entry for the migrants, especially Syrians crossing from Turkey, which is outside the EU.

“(Or) maybe the Italians with Lampedusa,” Strache added, referring to an island between Malta and Tunisia that has been a main landing point for migrants arriving by boat from North Africa.

Austria is a land-locked country.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Gareth Jones

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