and defence lawyers gave a press conference on 26.03.10 to mark the end
of the fourth week of the animal protection trial proceedings. It was
suggested that the case should go down in history not as the “monster”
trial as it is being called in the Austrian media, but as the “e-mail”
trial, as the case is almost entirely based on the defendants' expressing
of opinions in e-mails and internet forums.
Withholding of Information
lawyers told the press that police have still failed to present all the
results of their investigations to the defence although they are legally
obliged to do so. One of the lawyers representing three of the defendants
said he found it particularly puzzling that the prosecution have the researching
of factory farms as such a central accusation. The photos made during
such research make up reports of cruelty against farmers to the State
Prosecution, not to any criminal organisation. He went on to show journalists
photos of sick and dying animals on factory farms and asked if anyone
could imagine a criminal organisation anywhere in the world that would
be interested in these photos, because he certainly couldn't.
DDr Balluch said that he was looking forward to hearing what the special
police commission have to say in their questioning. He is very curious
to see whether they will at last start talking about the results of the
surveillance reports which have been held back all this time. Defendant
Jürgen Faulmann agreed saying that the surveillance reports contain
exonerating evidence in his favour.
Balluch, VGT manager, was informed just weeks before the beginning of
the proceedings that he was to go on trial. He told the press that this
short notification is in breach of his rights as laid out in the European
Convention on Human Rights. He argued that the case against him was not
objective and gave the example of the accusation against him that he had
bought a jacket with fur trim from a clothes shop in order to have the
fur tested. According to the special commission this was preliminary work
in choosing this store as a new target for an anti-fur campaign. Balluch
commented that had the prosecution bothered to read the results of the
investigations they would have read that this particular store had already
been the target of such a campaign for four years at the time that Balluch
had the fur trim tested. He continued saying that for him it was absolutely
clear that the investigations had been carried out the wrong way around:
There was no attempt to find perpetrators of damage to property, rather
animal campaigners doing their work openly were known to the authorities
and the offences could be attributed to them via the use of 278a. While,
of course, the crimes remain unsolved.
Elmar Völkl never thought it would be possible for a trial like this
to happen. He said freely that he does wish to influence politics in his
campaigning work and has done research in factory farms in order to expose
animal abuse with the aim of improving laws for animals. He also told
the press that he had helped many people with email encryption and sees
nothing suspicious in this, especially as many government agencies in
both Austria and Germany strongly recommend PC and email encryption.
will resume on 7th April with the questioning of the special police commission
responsible for investigating the defendants.