An Austrian newspaper editor is facing hate crime charges for a controversial column he wrote about the migrant crisis last year.

Chief editor of the Styrian edition of national paper Kronen Zeitung, Christoph Biro, labelled migrants ‘testosterone driven Syrians’ in his opinion piece on October 25 last year.

He also accused migrants of ‘extremely aggressive sexual assault’ and reported that Afghans had slashed train seats and refused to sit near Christians.

Police and the Austrian train company ÖBB denied that Afghans had destroyed the seats.

Fritz Grundnig of the National Police Directorate in Styria called the remarks ‘absolute nonsense’.

The article prompted 37 complaints to the Press Council and Mr Biro took four weeks leave from his job, reportedly saying he had ‘lost sense of proportion’.

Mr Biro said he had been a journalist for 39 years and had made a ‘particularly unfortunate’ error, the website Nachrichten reports.

He described how he had previously given Syrians German lessons with his wife and noted that among the refugees there can be ‘black sheep’ and bad incidents.

However, a case was brought against Mr Biro by campaign group SOS Mitmensch and a prosecutor has reportedly confirmed they will be seeking charges.

SOS Mitmensch’s mission statement says: ‘People must not be misused as scapegoats for failed social developments. Where this happens, we feel closer to the disadvantaged than the powerful. Integration, asylum and anti-racism are among the main aspects of our work.’

In July 2016, the SOS Mitmench created a guideline on how to report hate speech messages online to police.

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