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Repression

The Criminalization of Non-violent Protest Continues: Harassing Criminal Proceedings at the Criminal District Court in Graz

Submitted by Murxredaktion on Tue, 07/04/2017 - 22:51
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Public prosecutors want to turn a slight self-injury of a security worker into a serious crime

(Graz, 4th July 2017) It is said that by means of the obviously overhasty and unlawful eviction of the Murcamp1 from someone else’s estate, which is also stated in the constitutional law (freedom of assembly according to article 11 of the European Human Rights Convention), the criminalization against peaceful protests should be further driven on by mayor Siegfried Nagl and the ‘EStAG’ supported by political parties. The estate probably does not belong to the city of Graz yet because of expropriation proceedings which have not been finished yet.

The public prosecutors of Graz have fixed criminal proceedings with a trial lasting 5 hours on account of supposedly “grievous bodily harm”, “unlawful coercion” as well as “damage to property” for Wednesday, 5th July 2017 against 7 (according to latest reports even 9) participants in the spontaneous demonstration against the clearing for the controversial Mur power station on 6th February 2017. The clearing started just shortly after the lost election. Here the body of public prosecutors takes section 5 of grievous bodily harm according to article 84 German Criminal Code completely out of its context. It wasn’t until 2015 that section 5 has been added under justice minister Wolfgang Brandstetter and it judges bodily harms with the intention of injury or maltreatment to be “grievous bodily harm” even if it is done “in colluded connection”.

To make the situation worse, there are two accused women who haven’t got the slightest thing to do with the incident which can be proven and the security worker has injured himself in negligence of his duties when he wanted to avoid the building fence from falling down by grasping shortly at the fence from above without any gloves and an umbrella in his second hand and so hurt himself at the fence point when he has just come from outside.

The shaking at the fence where a clip has broken was in any case due to attacks of the security workers provided by the company ‘KLS’: demonstrators believed that they could stop clearings at 15:20 by further reducing the distances, which were illegally too small anyway, to the fence which probably wasn’t even permitted, when the fence was so brutally thrown back that a peacefully standing demonstrator could probably have been seriously injured in the face. A KLS worker has brutally hit a demonstrator at his bare hands several times and like in a rage, later on a clearing blocker was put in a headlock and then brutally thrown to the floor.

Some demonstrators but took advantage of the moment of shock and climbed over the fallen fence in order to interrupt the tree fellings in the clearing area for about two hours which have on that day come to its end. What does this short protest, however, mean in comparison with the much more severe crimes of the big companies, which damage the environment for unprofitable power stations and above all the wallet of the citizens of Graz (the costs of the power station and the storage channel amount to 160 million euros!) and which thereby also jeopardize the health of the citizens of Graz with lasting effect?

Instead of protecting the freedom of assembly as stated in the constitutional law by preventing attacks of security workers and danger to the public caused by building fences which are hastily put up probably even without any permission and with too small distances, that is to say unlawful – the minimum distance to tree fellings is the 1.5-fold of the biggest tree height; there was a fence part into which an apparently improperly felled tree has fallen! – the body of public prosecutors of Graz tries to make use of a perpetrator-victim inversion and accuse those who point out the abuses by means of their presence. It wasn’t only the demonstrators who were endangered by falling trees but also the security workers and partly even the police in the much too small strip of the clearing area!

The trial will be even more exciting than that of the NGO photographer Franz Keppel and Romana Ull, vice president of the nature conservation union of Styria, and the almost criminal enery of the politico-economic sleaze around mayor Siegfried Nagl and the national energy company ‘EStAG’. Obviously they try everything possible to push through a highly questionable large-scale project by all force at the expense of the population and the basic rights as well as the constitutional state in Austria.

According to the European Court for Human Rights the freedom of assembly is also restricted by every measure which has a deterrent effect, so that people no longer dare to take part in an assembly. It will also be fascinating whether the media will finally report more extensively and more differentiatedly about the power station and channel scandal. It’s only about the future of an already highly indebted provincial capital (debts will rise from 1.3 to 1.6 billion euros!)

Dates of the trial:

First trial on 5th July 2017, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Court room 3/ground floor

District Court for Criminal Matters Graz
Conrad-von-Hötzendorf-Straße 41, A-8010 Graz
Judge: Mag. Margarete Lapanje

 

 

Court Hearing 31st May 2017 – ‘EstAG’ continues harassing Suit against NGO Press Photographer

Submitted by Media Austria on Mon, 05/29/2017 - 20:47
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(Graz/Vienna, 29th May 2017) The arbitrary political court case of the national energy corporation ‘EstAG’ against the environmentalist and nature photographer Franz Keppel gets to the next round, although he hasn’t done anything different than his colleague of the ‘Kleine Zeitung’. The next hearing will therefore take place on Wednesday, 31st May 2017 at 8.30 a.m. at the district court Graz East. Justice minister Brandstetter will be dealing with the right of conduct disturbing the public.

‘EStAG’ pretends to have known nobody

Although ‘EStAG’, the subsidiary of the “Murkraftwerk Graz Errichtungs- und BetriebsgesmbH”, could not come up with any evidence for a disturbing conduct on the part of the photographer against the photographer at the first hearing, it insists on its suit. Now it has to be found out whether the plaintiff has in fact heard of the identity of the photographer well-known in the scene after the period for instituting proceedings has expired, whereas otherwise completely unknown activists were very well apprehended in time.

Supposedly there were approximately 200 hours of video material which had to be examined first by security officers on behalf of the builders of the power station. Imagine this, although the person accused by the subsidiary of the ‘EStAG’ was even called by his name by the press officer of the EStAG and was called by his name and with a photograph in a posting of the “Dialogbüro Murkraftwerk” of the ‘EStAG’ in the social media already on February 24th, 2017. He was easily to be seen at the side of the editor of the ‘Kleine Zeitung’, Günter Pilch who is unknown as well according to the ‘EStAG’ suit and who – strangely enough – will not be accused of interference with possession by the ‘EStAG’ subsidiary!

Of course, this raises the fundamental question if the video recordings for the inspection were examined in conformity with the law because no video surveillance was announced anywhere.

The ‘EStAG’ subsidiary does not even shy away from serious threats

That it’s primarily about the intimidation of the resistance against the expensive and environmentally destructive ‘Mur’ power station in Graz which now obviously becomes annoying was also clearly shown in the first trial against Roman Ull, which followed the first trial against Franz Keppel. Although Roman Ull has only looked after an info stand of “Rettet die Mur” which was officially approved – and which was wilfully destroyed and stolen by the ‘EStAG’ subsidiary – and who was on the lookout for legally protected dice snakes and who was only watching what was going on, was dragged before court by the ‘EStAG’ subsidiary.

During the trial the CEO of the “Murkraftwerk Graz Errichtungs- und BetriebsgesmbH” and the heads of the civil law department of the ‘EStAG’, Mag. Johannes Pratl, has even threatened Romana Ull with severe suits if she does not sign the declaration of omission demanded by him and which is quite vaguely formulated.

District court Graz East ignores constitution and human rights

The district court Graz East has shown its political compliance by rigidly controlling the identity cards especially and only at the first date of the trial and has additionally copied the identity cards of the visitors. Moreover a much too small room was chosen and the judge was unwilling to look for a bigger room so that all people interested could take part in the public hearing according to constitutional law.

The fact that court trials have to be public according to article 6 European Human Rights Convention and is also defined in the constitutional law is unpleasant to the courts in Graz which was also shown by neither putting up dates of trials nor announcing them on demand.

For this reason ‘Media Austria’ has lodged a complaint including an inquiry at the justice minister in order to help the modern state under the rule of law and in conformity with human rights to get the full effectiveness even in Graz.

So it all remains exciting, what will happen this time.

Freedom of the Press - Energy Styria Tries to Intimidate and Criminalize Press Photographer

Submitted by Media Austria on Fri, 05/05/2017 - 11:17
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Media Austria sends observers for court case

(Graz/Vienna, 5th May 2017) “Energy Styria” (Energie Steiermark), or rather its subsidiary “Murkraftwerk Graz Errichtungs- und Betriebs GmbH” tries to criminalize the non-violent resistance against the rooting out of trees because of the heavily disputed Mur power station Graz-Puntigam and to intimidate activists.

Power station builders make press photographer the ringleader

On Monday, 8th May 2017, Franz Keppel (“Huchen Franz”), ichthyologist and environmental photographer working for “Save the Mur”, stands trial at the district court Graz East. He also takes pictures for specialist publications and for regional media such as Kleine Zeitung or Steirerkrone. The accusation is: he is said to have “occupied the closed-off building site” and thus has committed “interference with possession”, when the power station builders started with the rooting out of the huge Au trees on February 15th 2017 at 11:44 after the lost local elections.

The prosecuting party even brazenly claims that the press photographer has got over the hoarding and has “stirred up younger activists”, with which the prosecuting party obviously wants to denounce him even as the ringleader, that is, the inciter of ostensibly unlawful actions.

Probably to intimidate the activists, the lawyer’s office ‘Lehofer & Lehofer’ also announces that the power station builders reserve the right “to legally demand the payment of all damages caused by unlawful behaviour” because ostensibly “further demonstrations on the site of the Mur power station are announced again and again by so-called power station opponents” – no evidence is given – and so there is a danger of recurrence.

The accusations go up in smoke

Too bad that almost nothing is right: the entry to the building site was wide open and the press photographer merely has documented a non-violent short demonstration which is covered by the freedom of assembly as defined in the constitutional law according to article 11 of the European Human Rights Convention (EHRC)1. The press photographer was in the demonstation area in the execution of the protected freedom of information and freedom of the press according to article 10 EHRC and left the area on his own without having been told to do so and after having filmed Dr. Romana Ull, ecologist and vice-president of the nature conservation association, when being reprimanded by the building-site management.

Special chutzpah: the lawyer’s office, which is obviously sloppily working and has already attracted attention by harassing and unfounded threats of legal actions on behalf of the Austria’s Freedom Party against the well-known data scientist Uwe Sailer, even demanded a fee for an absolutely unnecessary declaration of injunction with wrong allegations!

The power station builders of the ‘EStAG’ demand that the press photographer not be allowed anymore to enter the whole Mur area of the public water estate between ‘Radetzkybrücke’ up to far beyond the ‘Puntigammerbrücke” including cycleways.

Freedom of the press and freedom of demonstration are in danger!

From a democratic-political point of view it is alarming that the province of Styria, owner of the ‘EStAG’ as the “most valuable share” and whose board is nominated party-politically, is making propaganda for the expensive and superfluous power station everywhere – even in schools! – not only with the money of the population as users of electricity and tax payers, but also tries to intimidate those citizens who stand up against the power station which has been approved merely by means of an exceptional regulation.

Unfortunately, the local media sponsored by political advertisements and the EStAG report so little about the increasing resistance against the controversial power station, that a Mur activist has lodged a broadcast complaint against the biased and misleading reporting of the “ORF regional studio of the Styria” with the radio and television supervisory authority (= RTR).

It is only logical to train the sights on press photographers, for a story is only told in the media demanding attention when there is also an “awesome photograph”.

This information is also issued to “reporters without frontiers”, the journalists’ union, the “Austrian Journalist Party” as well as to “Amnesty International” with the request to send out additional observers for court cases.

Data of the trial:

Murkraftwerk Graz Errichtungs- und Betriebs GmbH against Franz K., press photographer
Monday, 8th May 2017, 8.30 a.m. (expected end: 9.15 a.m.)
Trial room B, district court Graz
Radetzkystraße 27, 8010 Graz

Following: trial Mur power station against Romana Ull

Further information:

1 According to the European Court of Hurman Rights, sit-ins and squattings are covered by the freedom of assembly according to article 11 of the European Human Rights Convention (EHRC).