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Austrian judo champion disappears ahead of sex abuse trial

Two-time Olympic judo champion Peter Seisenbacher has failed to show up for his trial in Vienna, where he is accused of molesting two young girls. His lawyer claims he is not aware of the athlete's whereabouts.

The judge suspended the proceedings on Tuesday, after Seisenbacher failed to show for in the court for two days in a row.

"We have not received any information from the defense on his whereabouts or on the reason for his absence," court spokeswoman Christina Salzborn told the Austria Press Agency.

Seisenbacher became the first judoka to ever win two Olympic gold medals in a row, winning in Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul 1988. He was named Austrian athlete of the year on three occasions. The now 56-year-old Austrian currently works as a head coach for the Azerbaijan judo team.

He is accused of sexually assaulting two young girls he coached during late 1990s and early 2000s. One of his victims was reportedly 11 and the other 13 when they were first assaulted. He is additionally charged with attempting to abuse a 16-year-old pupil while at a training camp in Croatia in 2001.

'Maybe he missed his plane'

If convicted, Seisenbacher would face a prison term of up to 10 years.

On Tuesday, his lawyer Bernhard Lehofer said that the athlete was "not available" via telephone.

"I have been trying to call him," Lehofer said. "I only get to his voicemail every time (...) I am not aware of his current whereabouts."

Previously, the lawyer said he last talked to his client several days ago.

"Maybe he missed his plane. Maybe he fell ill," he said on Monday.

If no plausible reason for Seisenbacher's absence is presented to the court, Austrian authorities have the option of issuing an international arrest warrant.

dj/rc (AP, dpa, SID, AFP)