Austrian Trial Abruptly Stopped


Bizarre trial of animal rights’ activists in Austria abruptly stopped

- Judge Arleth makes unexpected announcement on Thursday that a ruling is to be issued by April
- Year-long trial has drawn criticism from legal experts for evident similarities to Nazi-era, show trials
- Animal activists accused of no crimes, put on trial under special anti-terrorism paragraph
- People all over Europe could be summoned to similar trials under provisions of the European Arrest Warrant

The trial of German second world war resistance heroes Sophie and Hans Scholl had one plus poin: it was short. Nazi Judge Roland Freisler  sentenced them to death in 1943 in a few short hours for their „crime“ of distributing leaflets calling  for freedom.

The trial of 13 animal right’s activists in Austria for engaging in a similar civil rights activities, on the other hand, has been going on since March 2, 2010, under a special anti-mafia and terrorism paragraph 278a.

The regular news bulletins on the bizarre show-trial announced to Austrians that a new era of universal repression by the state had started. Coupled with plans for a massive expansion of the surveillance state through data monitoring and storage, it opens the door to a return of a Nazi-style terror regime by the state.

Under the European Arrest Warrant, people all over Europe could find themselves being summoned to face such trials in Austria. However, the notorious animal right’s trial seems finally to be coming to an end. Yesterday, Judge Sonya Arleth announced without warning that she had abandoned plans to call in another 200 witnesses and would give her ruling in April. Activists believe they will be freed because so far none of the 100 or so witnesses called against them has implicated them in any crime and the witnesses called in their defence have not been allowed to take the stand so far.

The heavy police presence at the court in Wiener Neustadt was also wound down on Thursday.

The abrupt end to the trial is a sign that there are forces in Austria still committed to the rule of law and able to stop the slide into a terror regime.

Clearly, any person or activist who commits a crime should be punished. But in as far as people have not engaged in any crime, they should never be put on trial as individuals or as part of a group. 

It is to hope  paragraph 278a is rapidly modified to stop a repetition of the kind of trial in Wiener Neustadt and that reforms are introduced to get a grip on an increasingly renegade justice system.

In September, Vienna state prosecutors conducted illegal interrogation of journalists investigating bank scandals underlining the fact that justice system has become part of a corporate-controlled state apparatus and that  is itself engaging in blatantly criminal actions.

In addition, state prosecutors in Graz a few weeks ago ordered the arrest of the brother of police inspector Franz Kröll for no other reason than authorities believed he was about to hand  over to politicians and the media evidence that his murdered brother had found out that the Natascha Kampush peadeophile ring was much larger than portrayed.

The trial of the animal right’s activist’sl had, however, the greatest potential for damage because this mode can be scaled up to conduct large-scale show trials in future against political opponents and also to pass far more drastic sentences.

Apparently moddeling herself on Roland Freisler himself, Judge Arleth used every opportunity to demonstrate her bias against activists and to humiliate them in breach of a code of behaviour that judges should try to be fair. Her manner brimming with personal scorn and mistrust appeared to be part of a psychological warfare against the activists – and, indeed, the people of Austria. She seemed to go out of her way to make it clear to everyone that justice, fairness and objecitivty would have no place in an Austrian court room when citizens were found to be guilty under this obscure paragraph of engaging in civil rights activities that the government did not like.

Following Freisler, she perfected a technique of intervening to ensure she posed all the questions – and also virtually answered all of them herself, leaving the hapless victims with little room to mount their own defence. Of the 105 witnesses called so far by her, 100 have been against the animal rights activists while only 5 have been for the activists, further underlining the bias against them. 

Awkward evidence that they had committed no crime – in the form of a report by undercover police agent „Danielle Durand“ – was simply removed from the file by Arleth.

Also, Judge Arleth was swift to make it known she would not tolerate any criticism of her methods. Law professor  Petra Velten who said the trial departed radically from  conventional law standards in a newspaper interview in December found herself facing defamation charges issued by the body representing judges in Austria.
This show trial cost Austrian tax payers 5 million euros. But the activists themselvs found their livelihoods ruined. Four lost their jobs but were barred from claiming unemployment benefits because of the requirement to attend the trial, leaving them in a financial no man’s land all too familiar to any who dares cross the path of the corporations.

The trial of the animal right’s activits  trampled on every principle of international law and has done much damage to the reputation of the Austrian justice system among the people. It has opened the door to compensation claims by animal rights activists.

The judges’s themselves could not seem to care less what the ordinary Austrian people think: they seem to share the arrogant mindset that they are above the law, the people are all fools anyway, and as long as they stick together n their far right-wing networks, they can break any law.

But the judges may find out to their surprise that if the new model German army under Chancellor Guttenberg? does not march into Austria soon in a repeat of 1938, the prison doors could be swinging shut on them as they would have swung shut on them in 1937 if Home Affairs Minister Friederich Stockinger had had his way. As it was, Hitler marched in in 1938, annexed the country, and the Austrian judges played an instrumental role in gathering up, imprisoning and killing 200,000 anti Nazis on a special political hit list within ten days.

Who knows if they also made out special court orders to grab their property? The plundering of private property that falls into justice officials hands as part of their duty to wind up an inheritance under Austrian law — in the UK magistrates courts are not automatically involved as in Austria — seems to be widespread phenomena today anyway as the Dörnbirn scandal and my own nightmare experience shows. resulting in my having, anyway, to spend much time and money now on legal action to finally put a halt.

It is really is time for Austrians to stand up to this small, nepotistic clique of judges, who are misusing their positions to violate the standard  principles and practises of international law to facilitate corporate and other crimes and to persecute their critics, and who are operating like a “state within a state” against the people of Austria.


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© Keith Mann