Austrian Animal Protection Trial – Week 9


Court time taken up with legal demonstrations

A famous Austrian musician gave a concert in Stuttgart, Germany. A demonstration against the repression in Austria was organised in front of the concert

After almost all of last week and most of this week's trial dates being taken up by questioning witnesses about legal anti fur demonstrations the defence made an objection to the judge on the grounds that the demonstrations under discussion were legally registered, not forbidden by the police and had no relevance to any crimes. The judge overruled the objection stating that those demonstrations were incriminated as part of a double strategy of legal protests and illegal activity. The two days in court this week were taken up with shop assistants and store managers being asked to describe the anti fur demonstrations in front of their stores and the behaviour of the protesters taking part.

One store manager claimed enthusiastically that one of the defence lawyers was an aggressive protester who was constantly demonstrating outside her store! Dr Stuefer, the lawyer in question, has nothing to do with animal rights campaigning.

Exonerating evidence withheld - again

There were two witnesses testifying this week who were not employed by Kleider Bauer. One was from a criminology lab and had done chemical analysis on substances found at crime scenes and during the house raids. The lab's results were finished and handed over to police in July 2008, while the defendants were still in remand custody. The results of all samples taken were negative, but this information does not appear in the prosecution files, neither was it given to the defendants or to their lawyers. Another example of exonerating evidence being withheld – a violation of the laws concerning trial proceedings.

“Can't remember”

The other witness was a leading member of the special commission investigating the defendants. His testimony was characterised by the fact that he was unable to remember anything, so much so that the defence had to remind him that he was under oath. He wasn't even able to remember whether he had been present at the arrests and house raids!

Biased prosecution witness

One defendant had made an appeal against a prosecution witness who is due to testify that mink liberated from a fur farm in 1997 suffered as a consequence or their release. The defendant had appealed that the witness was not an objective witness because he collaborated closely with hunters and because he and the defendant had previously had a very heated argument. The judge read out that the regional appeal court had rejected the appeal. The court acknowledged that the two individuals' ideologies differ hugely but this was not ground enough to reject him as an expert witness. This witness is due to testify at the end of May.


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© Keith Mann