press this week have reported on the long drawn out nature of the trial
and the distinct lack of any evidence against the defendants coming to light.
Reports also reminded the public of the tax payers' money which has been
and continues to be sunk into this case. Other reports focused on the bizarre
and often deeply worrying happenings inside the courtroom. One journalist
compiled a list of quotes and events – the majority of which appear
in these and preceding notes. This week also saw the head of Amnesty International
Austria criticising the trial in an online interview with one of the country's
decision to withdraw linguistic statement
judge again adjourned her decision to withdraw Dr Schweiger's statement
and the decision to allow a second linguistic statement from the defence.
spokesperson for Kleider Bauer
questioning of Kleider Bauer's media spokesperson was conducted by the judge
in a separate room in the court building. The questioning was shown on a
screen in real-time in the courtroom. The reason for this unusual procedure
was that the spokesperson claimed that she “felt mentally unable to
testify in front of the defendants”.
leaving the courtroom to conduct the private questioning, the judge told
the court that this witness would be questioned about two incidents. Firstly
about damage to her car in 2007. The judge showed photos to the court of
the car where white marks could be seen on the paint work and the tyres
had been punctured. Police had found fingerprints on the car, but they didn't
match to any of the defendants.
second incident was a legally registered demonstration consisting of 8 people
outside the Kleider Bauer central office in 2008. Four of the defendants
from the organisation BAT were, according to the records of the bugged phone
calls, present at this demonstration and one of them had registered the
demonstration with the authorities. The spokesperson had driven through
the demonstration and the demonstrators had allegedly shouted and pummelled
with their fists on her car. Police could find no damage although fingerprints
taken from the car fitted to some of the BAT defendants. The witness claimed
that these incidents from 2 years ago were still causing her to experience
judge then showed what she referred to as threatening e-mails, which had
been received by the spokesperson. All the e-mails were from German animal
organisations and signed by name. The e-mails were, without exception, all
polite. The following is a typical example:
I am horrified to find out that your company still sells real fur, in other
words; animal suffering. Why don't you follow the lead of many other large
retailers and stock fake fur? In this way it is possible to have beauty
and a clear conscience.
left the courtroom, the judge shook her finger at those present and said
that they were to keep quiet while she was away.
witness proceeded to tell the judge that her first contact to anti-fur campaigners
was when one of the defendants from VGT had written asking that Kleider
Bauer opt out of selling fur. The e-mail stated that the company had 14
days to respond before demonstrations in front of stores would begin. Later
in the proceedings this defendant denied that he had made such a call with
a time limit. He had phoned the company to find out who he could speak to
about the selling of fur and he had been given the spokesperson's number.
He had then phoned her and spoken with her about fur production.
witness told the court that 14 days after this initial contact protest mail
began to arrive. She had passed all e-mails on to her boss, but in the company
there had never been any question of agreeing to stop selling fur. The defence
pointed out that the spokesperson's business and private contact details
could be found easily online and wanted to know whether she herself had
put them online. The witness answered yes.
judge wanted to know whether there had been any telephone contact with campaigners.
In the beginning she had spoken to the VGT defendant who had written the
initial e-mail. The witness also reported occasionally receiving heavy breathing
phone calls during the night.
her questioning about the demonstration the witness described how a female
protester had addressed her by name and handed her a leaflet and had wanted
to talk with her. The witness took the leaflet, but didn't enter into conversation.
The leaflet was read out to the court. Its contents addressed Kleider Bauer
employees. It acknowledged that many employees were against fur and asked
that these employees discussed the matter with their fellow colleagues and
employer. It was clear to those listening that the leaflet was in no way
abusive or threatening. Asked by the judge whether she found the leaflet
threatening the witness replied that she found everything absolutely threatening.
Asked to be more precise, the witness said she meant she found the attempt
to get Kleider Bauer to stop selling fur threatening.
defence asked her to draw a sketch of the demonstration. This showed the
entrance to the central office with the protesters in front. The witness's
car was parked on the street behind the protesters. The witness had left
the building, walked through the protesters, had got into her car and then
driven back through the demonstration. The defence asked the witness via
the judge why she hadn't avoided the demonstration by driving around the
protesters. She answered that there were too many people. The defence pointed
out that the witness had told police that she had observed the demonstration
for 3 hours from inside the building. “Why then, if she had felt so
threatened, did she go alone to her car and drive through the protesters?”
the defence wanted to know. The judge asked how unsure she had felt when
leaving the building. The witness responded that it had been her personal
decision to go alone.
and the defendants commented with reference to the demonstration that pummelling
on a car with fists would not result in leaving finger prints. But as finger
prints were found by police it would rather suggest that protesters had
pushed with the palms of their hands against the car to protect themselves
as the car drove through them. In addition the witness only contacted police
some time after the incident had taken place and although other employees
had been in the building, she had asked none of them whether they had seen
anything or could provide a statement.
commented that these incidents serve to show that it is wrong to refer to
animal rights and Kleider Bauer as two clearly defined opposing parties.
Animal rights do not form a homogeneous group. There is not one person who
is responsible for everything that happens in the name of animal rights.
He himself was responsible for the VGT campaigns alone and within these
campaigns nothing of a criminal nature had taken place. There had been contact
to the spokesperson, but this contact had been perfectly civil.
witnesses this week included an expert on butyric acid; the chemical responsible
for the smell of stink bombs. She told the court that the substance washes
out of material easily and causes hardly any lasting damage.
assistant from a Kleider Bauer store described the “run in”
that happened in her store as “traumatising” and the protesters
as a “danger to the public”. She told the court that around
6 people had come into the store and for about 3 minutes they had scattered
small leaflets around the shop floor. There was no damage, but the area
had to be cleaned.
shop assistant said she thought fur was disgusting and most witnesses reported
that demonstrations in front of the stores had been peaceful on the whole.
of the witnesses testifying gave any evidence linking defendants to crimes
and another week came to an end which had largely been spent discussing