Note: The contents in words and pictures of this article are based on the facts when it was first published (04.07.2013).Vienna, 4th July 2013
Head of department prof. Schwaighofer criticises HRC-verdict of the animal rights activist trial 2.0
"Every threat to strike to push for higher wages would then be coercion" Austrians foremost expert for criminal coercion interprets the verdict.
"Every threat to go on strike in oder to push for higher wages would then be coercion" Austria's foremost expert for criminal coercion interprets the verdict.
He is head of department of the institute for criminal law, procedure and criminology of the University of Innsbruck, author of the renowned Wiener Kommentar (Vienna Commentary) on the articles on coercion and wrote a book about Austrian criminal code as well as a series of legal essays about criminal coercion. Professor Schwaighofer can be rightly considered Austria's foremost expert regarding coercion in the Austrian criminal code. The judge of the first animal rights activist trial referred to him in her acquittal. But the appeal verdict from the Higher regional Court of Vienna breaks completely new ground, professor Schwaighofer explains: "then every threat to go on strike in order to push for higher wages would be criminal coercion [...] Even the announcement to use roadblocks to push for a ban on night-time driving for lorries or attain an exceptional rule for the compulsory motorway toll stickers( see the current talk about the compulsory motorway toll stickers for the section border to southern Kufstein) would be a criminal coercion".
The central charge in the relaunch of the animal rights activist trial is coercion. One animal rights activist is indicted because, as a shareholder she went to a shareholders' meeting of the company Escada and held a speech against the fur trade in which she announced a legal campaign regarding this issue. On behalf of the VGT, another animal rights activist sent (using a VGT e-mail address) a total of 6 e-mails to the company Fürnkranz, asking for a statement regarding their opting out of the fur trade, and, failing that, announcing a legal campaign. And yet, ultimately there hasn't been a single demonstration or action, not to mention damage to property to Fürnkranz. Professor Schwaighofer thinks of these courses of action as definitely not coercion or criminal conduct: "The means employed - the announcement of legal demonstrations and campaigns - I would regard as fundamentally legitimate, in any case not as immoral or socially intolerable [...] In contrast to the HRC Vienna verdict, I would also not regard the purpose - the demand to opt out of the fur trade - against public policy (contra bonos mores) or indecent [...] It's not about affirming the morality, but rather about assessing if the purpose is socially intolerable. [...] In this regard, an immoral connection between means and purpose cannot be construed in my opinion: the necessary objective connection is arguably given."
VGT's Martin Balluch adds: "To save face and to pin at least something on the animal rights activists, the judicial system in this country is willing to declare the announcement of and carrying out of totally legal and peaceful campaign as a criminal offence with a penalty of 5 years in prison. That our democracy thereby is at risk, becomes apparent with the statements from professor Schwaighofer. Seven years after the beginning of the investigations in the animal rights activist case this ever-turning spiral of increasingly crazy law-bending continues just to service businesses by silencing critics. § 278a can't be applied abusively, so what - we'll just go with coercion."
Professor Schwaighofer's statement is quoted in full at martinballuch.com (German)