trial date is approaching rapidly. Let me give you a few updates. (from
an anonymous insider)
still have no access to the police files on the case. such access is, however,
necessary, to prepare the defence. in fact, none of the 10 defendants has
so far presented their list of witnesses.
2009, a judge ruled that police has to allow access to their files. however,
police has refused and found excuses all the time. so we brought that to
the attention of the same judge, who summoned the police for another verdict.
4 times the police did not respond, they claimed they had not received the
3 faxes the judge had sent them, or were on holiday, or did not have enough
time to explain why they do not want to allow access. at the end the judge
said that he will rule on 13th january 2010 in any case, even if the police
have not presented their case till then. a week before this court date,
the judge was removed from the case!!!!
judge has been appointed and she cancelled the court date since she needs
to read the court papers first. no new date has been set to this day.
the days aroung christmas and new year, martin balluch was in a house in
the mountains with friends visiting. altogether at least 6 times during
those 14 days, police went up the dead-end road to the house and wrote down
number plates of the visitors' cars. also, they peeped through the window
into the house and asked if he was there.
september 2008, just when the 10 were released from prison, the biggest
daily newspaper reported that police was convinced that vgt was responsible
for arson and 224 cases of criminal damage. vgt sued this newspaper for
libel and won in the first round. the newspaper appealed in the last minute
to delay procedures. now, the upper appeal court has ruled that the newspaper
has libelled vgt and must pay damages as well as publicly state that their
statement was wrong. also, they must
publish that for 30 days on their website.
court ruling the judges say that neither vgt nor martin balluch can be said
to be suspected of arson or criminal damage, since there is no evidence
number of people have been pulled in and questioned by police in the last
weeks. only 3 days ago, an activist had been ordered to the police station
for an interview under threat of arrest. as did the others, he came with
his lawyer, wearing gloves and a hat so that he would not leave fingerprints
or dna. his lawyer said that he refuses to give a statement. in his case,
though, the police was not just very aggressive and assertive as with the
others, but they also brought a state doctor. they claimed the activist
is a possible suicide candidate and the doctor must see him and possibly
move him to a psychiatric unit! the lawyer intervened, did not allow the
doctor to see the activist and immediately left. the police wanted to stop
them but thanks to the intervention of the lawyer they did not succeed!
are planning a number of press conferences before and during the trial.
in 2 days, on wednesday, we will do our next press conference on the issue
of the government tightening the law instead of making it more compatible
with democracy. we had very good media coverage so far on this issue and
wonderful support, not just from other animal groups as well as NGOs from
other social movements, but also from the journalist union and the guild
of lawyers, who explicitly referred to the animal rights case as an example
of the damage such a law can do.
weeks we will do a press conference on the self indictments. we have received
more than 200 by now and are still hoping for more!
before the trial starts we will do a press conference. and there are two
during the trial scheduled already, one with a german expert on linguistics
and one with peter singer, who will be visiting vienna just for that occasion!
last a bit of very good news. the special police unit chasing animal activists,
had decided in june 2008, while the activists were in prison, that they
want to try to remove the charity status from vgt so that vgt can be dissolved
and driven to bankruptcy. just after the police had to give the computers
back to vgt according to a court ruling 10 months after the raids, tax inspectors
raided the vgt office yet again and went through all book keeping. a ministerial
internal letter stated directly, that vgt should loose its charity status.
Arguments were that vgt was too radical and that vgt demanded law changes.
it was said that demos and actions are contrary to being a charity. but
the tax inspectors turned out to be objective and after 18 months of investigating
found that vgt was a charity. on 12th january 2010 they had a meeting with
the ministerial people and told us that they managed to persuade them that
their view is, indeed, correct. on 15th january, the investigation was officially
closed and vgt was given the go ahead of being a charity after all!