of Jürgen Faulmann, Chris Moser, Elmar Völkl and David Richter.
Refusal to cooperate from other defendants
the time of his arrest Faulmann was head of international campaigns for
the Austrian animal welfare organisation Four Paws. Faulmann explained at
length how Four Paws uses the same strategies and has the same campaigns
and target companies as VGT. Wherever the prosecution has tried to argue
that VGT activities support the supposed criminal organisation, the same
can be said of Four Paws, he told the judge. The fact that Four Paws has
been omitted from police investigations points to the destruction of VGT
being the prosecution's aim.
is charged with liberating pigs and also for animal cruelty in connection
with their liberation as the prosecution claim that 3 pigs died as a consequence
of their liberation. An independent examination of the dead pigs showed
however that the pigs were already dead before the liberation took place.
Police tracking of Faulmann's mobile phone does place him near the farm
on that day, however, only in the afternoon and very briefly. The liberation
had taken place in the night, though, when the tracking of his mobile showed
him to be at home. Faulmann explained to the judge that he was with a number
of friends on a 5 hour long bicycle tour around his home, which explained
his presence. Faulmann and his lawyer argued that if the police would behave
as they were legally obliged to then they would include exonerating evidence
in the files and it would become clear through the police surveillance records
that Faulmann had not released the animals. Faulmann said while he sympathised
with the release of the pigs it was not something he would have done because
the farmer simply had rounded them up again.
Moser was mostly questioned by the judge about his art and the motivation
behind it. The judge showed Moser different examples of his own work and
asked him to comment on them. He said that like many other artists his work
is deliberately provocative and intended to shock. However, there is nothing
secret about his work and it is open for everyone to see on his website
lawyer showed the judge other examples of provocative artists and their
works. Like most of the other defendants, Moser was questioned about run-ins.
He explained that they are not aggressive and customers in the shop at the
time of a run-in never appear frightened, rather they stop and show interest
in the action.
from the judge asking him about contents of emails, Elmar Völkl was
questioned exclusively about giving VGT technical assistance with computers
and mobile phones. After explaining that it was his right to be guaranteed
a secular hearing he demanded that the crucifix hanging on the wall behind
the judge be removed. This request was not respected by the judge.
why he is moved to be concerned about animals the judge interrupted him
saying that the court was not interested in what actually happens to animals
rather what he thinks about what should happen to animals and how to achieve
that. This comment from the judge again indicates how the trial is an attempt
to criminalise opinions rather than solve crimes.
told the judge that he had never thought it possible that he as an innocent
person could be brought to court in a case like this. To this the judge
responded spontaneously that she too never thought that she would hear a
case like this!
went on to detail that there are 4500 cases of damage to property a year
in Austria. According to the prosecution nearly 20 of these cases are related
to animal protection. It is therefore obvious that the case against the
defendants is politically motivated. In addition there are the minutes of
the meeting where the police special commission was formed which were leaked
to the Green Party. The minutes refer to the fact that police stress that
no connection between offences and VGT exists, but still the Home Office
insisted that police were to do everything in their power to stop VGT demonstrations
and to step up investigations. Asked why he recommended others to encrypt
their emails, Völkl recounted an incident from 2003 whereby a media
action was being organised to expose a farm where pigs were routinely being
illegally chained to the floor. The police however, phoned on the day before
the action to say that they knew about it. This incident led Völkl
to be of the opinion that encryption was important. The judge said that
the court found this understandable.
campaigner David Richter's questioning centred around email correspondence.
He was not however questioned about “radical” content but rather
about emailing people asking them to help out at information tables and
come to demonstrations. The judge also seemed most interested in establishing
whether or not demonstrations were a disturbance to the public. The judge
asked him if he knew what OGPI is. He said it was an umbrella website for
all anti-fur campaigns in German speaking countries, especially Germany.
In principle he thought it was a good idea if VGT actions were also present
on the website. The judge read from a long list of websites she had found
via a Google search of OGPI. A defence lawyer protested at this saying that
a Google search of the judge's own name came up with 9080 hits. Yes, said
the judge, but hopefully none with an ALF connection. To which the lawyer
replied that there were indeed 4360 hits for a search of the judge's name
and ALF! The public were in hysterics and the judge shouted angrily that
her line of questioning was justified.
asked who he thought might be responsible for damage to property and the
use of stink bombs in fur shops David Richter said that it certainly wasn't
anything to do with the VGT and described how these offences have only caused
problems for his legal campaigning against the shops and that he would have
to be completely insane to have done it himself.
of the defendants refused to cooperate with their questioning, instead giving
a statement to the judge explaining that their refusal was based on the
fact that there was no evidence connecting them to any crime and that they
were being forced to prove their innocence rather than the prosecution having
to prove their guilt. This went against the principle of being “innocent
until proven guilty”.
each of their statements there was loud and enthusiastic applause from the
public which made the judge furious, so much so that she instructed a police
officer to pay special attention to which individuals were responsible for
disturbing the court.