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Holiday Service Austria

Animals  (tags: animaladvocates, humans )

- 3625 days ago -
You know Austria as the country of Mozart, EURO 2008, Mountains and lakes! Would you expect that they put innocent people in prison? Contact the Austrian Touristboard to protest for the freedom of the 10 activists! They are in prison for 4 weeks today!

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Hans L (958)
Saturday June 21, 2008, 6:12 am
Holiday Service Austria

We will be pleased to help you by telephone from Monday to Friday 9.00am - 5.00pm. Give us a call or send us an e-mail. We will be happy to send you free brochures for your holiday arrangement.

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Hans L (958)
Saturday June 21, 2008, 6:13 am
Questionable Methods of Investigation
Forgery of a witness statement

The reason for the remand in custody of one of the detainees was given as a witness statement: During a confidential conversation, a witness for the prosecution supposedly told the police that he was convinced that one of the accused was guilty of an act of arson. When the witness was asked to verify the statement by a lawyer, it became clear that he was neither witness to the offence nor privy to arson attacks. He provided written confirmation to the lawyer that the police had presented his statement in completely false light. He never stated that he was convinced of the accused guilt, but rather is completely unable to say anything about the case, so he states. He can neither confirm nor rule out the accused being guilty. Therefore, charges of misuse of authority have been pressed against the investigating police officer.
False accusations made to gain access to people and items

The representation of the situation by the police and public prosecutor's office contradicts itself. On the one hand their files on this case characterise the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) as “not a group with members, rather an example of a non-hierarchical activity without leadership.” On the other hand they utilize paragraph 278a of the criminal code to blame the accused of being members of a hierarchically structured criminal organization which runs under the name ALF.
The police also write that “the ALF is made up of small, anonymous cells without central leadership”. However, they charge the accused with exactly the opposite, namely that they are members of a criminal organization called ALG and therefore belong to a large centrally run, company-like organization.
From the years of surveillance they have performed, the police know with 100% certainty that it is impossible that these 10 people that they have taken into custody belong, together, to a hierarchically organized organization with a division of labour. It is also clear from the case files that the police knows that in this case there are two distinct groups that are politically involved in animal protection. There was more or less no contact between these groups. It is completely absurd to construe a hierarchically structured, large, business-like organization based on these facts.
A cogent explanation for the investigating authorities having evidently deliberately put forward false accusations is to leverage the heavier punishments foreseen by paragraph 278a, to secure permission for a drastic all-round attack (wire tapping, comprehensive house searches, unbelievable amounts of confiscations, martial demeanour and the breaking in of doors etc.).
It is obvious that certain organizations and individuals are to be intimidated and, at least momentarily, put out of operation, the image of the accused and the groups involved is to be damaged beyond repair.
Incorrect translation

At least one case of incorrect and biased translation by the authorities has been proven: Sabotage of a “mink hunt” was made into the sabotage of a “mink farm”. The subtle difference between the two translations is that it is completely legal to sabotage a mink hunt, yet the sabotage of a mink farm would be an act of industrial sabotage, which is illegal.

Reading-in on private emails

In the interim police report reference is made to private emails and emails from internal mail-groups. This is surprising, because the surveillance of email traffic by the authorities is (still) prohibited. One therefore must ask, how did the police gain access to these emails?
Wire tap operations

The public prosecutor's office itself admits that they have already been investigating animal protectionists for years. They have been listening in on the suspects' telephone conversations for around a year; emails are quoted word for word; observation was carried out at locations. However, the public prosecutor is denying access to the court notices that give reason for these massive surveillance operations. Despite this comprehensive monitoring the authorities evidently have found nothing more than private conversations in a private internet forum, in which the sense and non-sense of illegal action was discussed.
Location of persons via mobile telephone signals

Mobile phones were located and the movements of people under surveillance were followed with incredible precision (as close as a few meters).
Use of intimate details to provoke incriminating testimonies

During the questioning of one person, whose home was also searched, officers attempted to provoke her into making an incriminating statement by going through the details of relationship disputes with her boyfriend, who is also accused. These details were obviously known to the police from listening in on telephone conversations, as some sentences were recounted word for word. The police have evidently processed and entered data on the accuseds' private and intimate lives in the case files.
Questionable Methods
Confiscation of property impedes the work of NPOs

The comprehensive confiscation of property has taken the foundation for their work away not only from individuals but also from organizations. Especially in the case of the NPOs that are not accused, it must be critized that these have been impeded in their activities in an extremely drastic manner. The Association Against Animal Factories has lost its computers, photos and film archives, bookkeeping, membership database and practically all the documents that were in binders. The normal work of the association cannot be recommenced under these conditions.
Information passed to the media before the accused and their lawyers are informed

At least the remand in custody of the detainees was announced to the media immediately, whereas the detainees' lawyers were not given this information. It also seems very worrying that the public prosecutor speaks of the case as a closed case, yet the Kurier (an Austrian daily newspaper) reports that it has “judicial papers” from which they are able to gleen details of the investigation and accusations brought against individuals. Charges will be pressed with respect to a suspected breach of official secrets.
Intimidation and humiliation

The war-like police operation – breaking in doors, sending in masked special units dressed like robbers and holding people at gunpoint, using handcuffs in making the arrests, shouting and bellowing, etc. – was designed to thoroughly intimidate and humiliate those involved. Many of those involved are still traumatised, unable to sleep properly and wake abruptly at the smallest noise in the night. People who have dogs at home must even fear for their dogs' lives because they know that a dog can be easily shot during such a raid, without any repercussions for the officer who pulls the trigger. One dog was in fact recently shot dead by the police during a house search in Austria.

The authorities should know from their comprehensive surveillance in the forefront of this operation that all those involved are utterly harmless and unarmed persons. Nevertheless they made their appearance as though they were storming the apartments of heavily armed terrorists probably lying in bed armed to the hilt.
The message was conveyed to those involved that they are at the mercy of the state. The state can raid their private sphere, hold them and take their property. The state is omnipotent and can do whatever it likes.
This message is conveyed in an even more crass way in the remand centres.
Seeing as paragraph 8 of the Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure states that every person who is not convicted by a court of law must be considered innocent, one could believe that remand in custody is not a punishment but is only there – in this case - to avoid collusion and the perpetration of further acts. One would therefore also assume that every effort would be made to interfere as little as possible with the lives of the - as yet presumed innocent - accused. It should therefore be possible to provide them books, television and radio sets, or whatever food they require from the outside as desired and without chicanery. Letters and cards should reach them within reasonable time. It should be possible for them to wash and to get fresh clothing. Athletic exercise should be possible, as should daily visits. They are, after all, innocent. This is what the Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure states and it is also required in the Convention of Human Rights.
However the reality of custodial remand in Austria looks quite different.
Those remanded in custody completely lose their autonomy. They are subject to unfathomable chicanery by the authorities. Even the smallest needs – even if it is reading a book – must be approved. There are forms for that – but they aren't always available, deadlines that must be kept and endless handling time. Each day there is only one hour of exercise in the courtyard. Detainees may wash only twice a week. It is not permitted to do any sports. Electric light is turned off as and when he judicial centre sees fit. Clean clothes are few and far between. It is not possible to bring food from the outside to the detainees. Visits are extremely limited – only two times a half hour per week and the visitors must calculate horrendous amounts of time for each visit, for example 6 hours for a half-hour visit. It can also happen that a visitor makes the long journey to the detention centre (Vienna, Wiener Neustadt or Eisenstadt) and waits for a certain time only to be told to come back another time, because no more visits are possible on that day. Absolutely unacceptable conditions.
To put it briefly, the suspects are given the clear impression that the state is omnipotent and able to monitor and dictate even their smallest movements. In reality, custodial remand has little to do with what it claims to be. It is about measures to intimidate, humiliate, beat people down and put them under psychological pressure.
Damage to image through the publication of false accusations (by Minister of the Interior, Guenther Platter)

As early as 2007, while the police were involved in intensive investigations against animal protectionists in Austria, there was a uncalled for defamation of the Association Against Animal Factories. The Minister of the Interior, Guenther Platter, made untrue claims in a reply to a parliamentary question, depicting the Association Against Animal Factories to be a violent group. It was not possible to sue the Minister because he is immune to such court actions due to his office. The Association Against Animal Factories retaliated with advertisments in the 'Standard' and 'Press' daily newspapers, in which the Minister was accused of having lied. Minister Platter showed no reaction to this.
Further details about this incident on:
Questionable Argumentation
Legal political activities counted as criminal offences

The police is counting political activities by committed individuals and NGOs as offences bolstering their charge of membership in a criminal organization. Protocols of activist meetings and conversations in which campaigns – but in no way plans or the perpertration of punishable acts – are spoken about are being used by the police as evidence for a “joint” approach and “division of labour” by the activists. Thus, legal political activities are being made part of a crime. This has never been ventured before in this form by the police in Austria and represents an alarming development for civil society.
Rumours that the police filmed the entire operation

Rumours are still circulating in the media that the measures taken during the house searches were filmed by the police, ensuring that everything was done in complete compliance with the law. In fact, hardly any searches were filmed, and if any films were made then they were not of the entire operation.
Even in cases where the police filmed, this measure does not serve to protect the victim but rather to protect the perpetrator, i.e. the police, from false accusations. Films such as these made by the police are useless for victim protection – or does anyone believe the police would gladly hand over incriminating evidence to a victim so that they could press charges?
Interestingly, the accused themselves as well as uninvolved third parties were strongly prohibited from filming the police operation. A documentation from the viewpoint of those being searched was therefore not possible. Now why would that be??
Data encryption is counted as a criminal offence

The police and the public prosecutor count encrypting emails, documents or hard disks as part of a criminal act. They consider this to be an elaborate measure to shield data, a measure that must be pursued as a criminal act. One of the detainees is accused of nothing other than having encrypted data and informing others about possibilities to encrypt documents and emails.
The fact is that the encryption of emails and data is a common standard which is used by companies, political parties and NGOs. Data encryption is completely legal and endorsed by governmental authorities. Authorities like the German “Federal Office for Security in Information Technology” even offer free encryption software on their web sites.
The Federal Office writes, “An average email is always open, like a post card. The electronic 'postman' and others can always read them. It is even worse than that: Computer technology offers not only the opportunities to send and distribute many millions of emails daily but also to control them.” And further: “What we suggest to you here is an envelope for your electronic letters. Whether you use it, when, for whom and how often is your decision alone. Software like Gpg4win just gives you your freedom of choice back. The choice, whether you think a message is important and worth protecting or not. This is the core of the right to privacy of letter, post and telecommunications in the fundamental law and you can make use of this right with the help of the Gpg4win software. You don't have to use it – you don't have to use an envelope either. But it is your perfectly good right.”
Well, it seems that nobody told the police and public prosecutor that the right to privacy of letter, post and telecommunications also exists in Austria.

Hans L (958)
Saturday June 21, 2008, 6:16 am
Accusation according to § 278a StGB

Because there are no concrete accusations § 278a StGB has been used in order to hold people on remand, wherein detainees are assumed to be members of a criminal organisation. To quote from Green MP Brigid Weinzinger’s May 26th, 2008 media broadcast; “This passage of criminal law is geared to Mafia and similar organisations.” The Office of Public Prosecutor however, does not have any documents which prove the existence of a criminal organisation. This so-called ‘criminal organisation’ is suspected of damage to property, such as the burning down of an empty hen-hall in 2000 and throwing of a stink bomb, exaggerated as a gas attack by the authorities. There’s no proof of planned criminal offences, or anything similar. There’s no proof any prisoner committed the named criminal offense. It was only after 17 days imprisonment that three of the prisoners received any type of concrete accusation, specifically that they had threatened a fashion store press officer by hindering her from driving away. Fingerprints were found on the car, as written in the act.
In response, the police felt compelled to threaten people as part of the May 21st: house-search and violently battering down doors to wake sleeping people with armed hooded men.

Hans L (958)
Saturday June 21, 2008, 6:17 am
Hunger strike

Seven prisoners went on hunger strike because there are no concrete accusations against them. As of today (June 17th, 2008) DDr. Martin Balluch still refuses food. Since June 16th he has been force-fed against his will. He demands to be charged or immediately released. The threat that his body will suffer permanent damage is rising every day, especially his brain, his kidneys and his lever are at risk.

Hans L (958)
Saturday June 21, 2008, 6:19 am
Statement from Amnesty International

The human rights organisation Amnesty International is also trying to help the imprisoned animal protectionists. In a two page statement the organisation describes a string of abuses of the Austrian criminal law. Amnesty International emphasizes, once again, that political and social activism as a freedom of expression is a protected human right. The statement criticises the use of sec 278a of the criminal code being used against political activists noting “It seems inadequate to postulate a group involved in organised crime from a situation where a number of demonstrators arrange to resist state authority”.
Amnesty International pointed out that well known environmental organisations such as Greenpeace, for example, that might engage in actions such as occupying an atomic power plant could be said to have committed an offence under this law in doing so, and that as a consequence those who donate to their organisation could be charged with financing terrorism under criminal law. It is also pointed out that the term ‘organised crime’ is characterised by the intent to enrich oneself and refers to the gravest crimes. The intention to maximize profits is characteristic in these cases, such as trafficking and smuggling drugs, weapons and stolen art works, procuring prostitutes and trafficking in human beings.
The appropriateness of the house searches also came under criticism, in particular the reports that those held in custody were refused their right to contact a lawyer or next of kin. Amnesty International is concerned about, and has strongly criticised, the claim from Public Prosecutor that no allegations are aimed at organisations, whilst searches of offices rendered many organisations unable to function due to seized technology, equipment and data.

Past Member (0)
Saturday June 21, 2008, 8:17 am
Hans this is incredible!

Gorilly Girl (339)
Saturday June 21, 2008, 8:45 am

Big Gorilly Hugs

Joycey B (750)
Saturday June 21, 2008, 10:32 am
Thanks for all the contact info on this Hans.

Hans L (958)
Saturday June 21, 2008, 2:18 pm
Stephanie do you know the sound of music my dear friend?
Well make some music with your Gorilla friends!
Silverback wants to hear the sound of music all around the world...
AUSTRIA SHAME ON YOU! You dont need to write long comments but all the
Austrian tourism managers will blame the minister for this bad publicity!
So go make some noise! Thank you Gorilla Girl!

Past Member (0)
Sunday June 22, 2008, 5:22 am
Every contact to the embassy has to be reported! So even if you protest allone they will report your protest!
Everyone of us can be next if you have ever donated to organisation that could be accused of being a criminal organisation like Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, PETA, or all the have been supporting terrorism!
This is insane according to amnesty international! But that does not set them free even the political questions in Austria and from other countries
dont set them free! It needs more pressure!

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