Alexander Nekvasil on 25 Jun 2000 19:10:26 -0000

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<nettime> Austrian Justice, Letters to President Klestil, Haider, Pelinka

Two Scattered Remarks about Austrian Justice, Haider,
Pelinka, Letters to President Klestil, and Similar

I. The legal situation of the Pelinka case is more
complicated than it seems.

There is a law in Austria which bans attempts to
re-enact national socialism ("Verbotsgesetz").

No one, therefore, except a few puerile boy scoutish
folks, declares himself a nazi.  Openly, that is.

On the other hand, to state that someone else is a nazi
amounts to accusing this person of a crime which may
entail lifelong imprisonment in case that person is

The courts have developed some formulas about what,
apart from the obvious cases, constitutes that crime.
The expression Pelinka used is among them--which, I dare
conjecture, Pelinka knows very well.

Now if Haider is prosecuted, and if the court uses, in
its sentence, the same words Pelinka used, Haider will
go to jail for at least five years, end of story.

There is only one way, for Haider, to avoid that this
expression "sticks": the libel suit.

To call this an attempt to silence opposition is a
terrible simplification, because, in this case, Haider
_is_ the opposition.

II. Among the cases the professors mention in their letter
there is one missing; as it happens, it is the most
shameful one for the Austrian justice system.

A couple of years ago, Austria's Supreme Court (Oberster
Gerichtshof) flatly refused to comply with a ruling of
the European Court of Human Rights and did not overturn
a sentence against another journalist, Gerd Oberschlick,
in another defamation case.  Oberschlick had charged the
secretary of the FPOE of the time with breaking the
Verbotsgesetz because of his suggestion to cut family
benefits for "Gastarbeiter", immigration workers.


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