[fyeg_gen-l] Police Repression against Animal Protection in Austria

Ilze ijece at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 26 00:07:43 CEST 2008

Police Repression against Animal Protection in Austria:  A Summaryhttp://www.vgt.at/hinweise/20080527Repression/index_en.php

	* House searches, arrests, seizure  confiscation
	* Suspected persons
	* Accusation according to § 278a StGB
	* Bugging operation
	* Hunger strike
	* DNS sample taken by force
	* Abuse of power
	* Holding back of confiscated  property
	* Statement from Amnesty International
House searches, arrests, seizure  confiscation
House searches, arrests, confiscations - May, 21st 2008,  at six o’ clock in the morning: 23 flats and houses were  stormed by special units of the Austrian police opening  doors violently, waking sleeping people and threatening  them with firearms. A man had to wait handcuffed in his  underwear in front of his flat and his neighbours for two  hours. But more than ‘just’ that: the Klagenfurt court has  explained in decision 7B18/08g that a house search requires  concrete suspicion of illegal behaviour. The search must  also be restricted to objects which are important for immediate  clarification of that accusation. The search warrant also  needs to name the wanted object, so that occupants of the  house have the chance to give them up wanted objects voluntarily.  In this case (on May 21st) there was no connection between  the criminal offence and the accused persons. The accused  were not told what objects were wanted, and none of the  affected
 persons were given the opportunity to give the  wanted objects up to the police. Most people did not even  get the opportunity to phone a legal adviser. First, mobile  phones were conficsated so that nobody could make calls.  These illegal search methods were used at the office of  the Verein Gegen Tierfabriken (VGT) and the storehouse in  which information about animal abuse was kept. The office  of the VGT, which was not accused of anything in the official  accusation, was thoroughly searched. Many computers, photos  and video materials were seized, bringing the entire VGT  to a standstill while collected material from ten years  of work were taken away. The same search methods were used  at three other animal protection locations, organisations  which have been hugely successful over the years in prohibiting  hen-laying batteries, fur-bearing animal keeping, wild animals  in circuses, and keeping rabbits in cages, etc. The organisations  worked
 democraticly and without any violence, but were awkward  for politicians.
Suspicious people
Ten people are imprisoned, although there’s no concrete  accusation against them. These people are from different  Animal Protection Organisations. In the examinations they  were told it would help them if they said things against  the other prisoners and against animal protectionists. The  prisoners received imprisonment on remand, nine in Wr. Neustadt.  Immediately there were solidarity demonstrations in front  of the prison. Detainees were not allowed to wash, one was  neither allowed to shower for a whole week nor change his  clothes. A non-smoker was confined to the same cell as a  chain smoker. Prisoners were moved to separate prisons without  informing defence lawyers (suspicion of complicity). Two  prisoners were moved to Eisenstadt, four to Wien-Josefstadt  and one person came from Tirol to Wr. Neustadt.
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.
Bugging Operation
The Office of Public Prosecutor declares there have been  police investigations against animal protectionists for  years. For about a year, telephone calls from ‘suspicious  persons’ have been bugged, e-mails cited, and location observations  carried out, but until today the Office of Public Prosecutors  has provided no justification for these actions. They’ve  found nothing beyond theoretical discussions in closed internet  forums. The response is to accuse people giving time and  energy to the weakest members of our society with criminal  offences they’ve never committed. Paragraph 278a can only  be used if at least ten people have built an organisation  – and exactly ten people were arrested even though these  people barely stay in contact or do not even know each other.  This is a fact the police are aware of because of intensive  observation. Why then do police act in this way? Because  they can discredit animal protection organisations by
 labelling  them ‘criminal organisations’?
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.
DNS sample taken by force
Although the taking of a DNS sample by force is, as written  in StOP in connection with § 278a, not allowed, the DNS  of two inprisoners was taken against their will using force.  One detainee was held brutally by police officers in order  to obtain the sample.
Abuse of power
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. 
Other reports of human rights abuse will follow. The period  of remand is being justified because of the danger of collusion.  However, at the remand hearing the custodial judge offered  to free one prisoner if he gave her the password for the  encrypted computer. 
Holding back of confiscated  objects
Flats of people not accused of anything were also searched.  They took all mobile phones, computers etc. and did not  give them back, even after they were asked many times. The  leading public prosecutor from Wr. Neustadt emphasizes always  that the Verein Gegen Tierfabriken (VGT) is not accused  in any way and that he does not want to impede their work.  But even after saying this the VGT did not get back the  confiscated material (Date June, 9th 2008)
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.

Your help counts! Support the innocent remanded Animal  Protectionists! 
The unbelievable arbitrary police actions are an attack  on animal protection in Austria. They aim to silence Animal  Protection Associations, that address issues that are inconvenient  for the government.
Please help!
What can you do?
	1. Write  to the politicians in charge
	2. Sign  our online Petition in solidarity with the animal  protection detainees.
	3. Support one of the many Solidarity  Demonstrations in Austria, Germany or other countries. 
	4. Support us with a donation (language German).
	5. Write letters to media. Each one counts and makes  a difference. Here  is a list of the most important Austrian media.

Don't try to be different.  Just be good.  To be good is different enough. 
Arthur Freed

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