Austria again, actions necessary!

Ruth Wodak ruth.wodak at UNIVIE.AC.AT
Sat Sep 30 22:32:44 UTC 2000


Dear Friends!
I am writing again because two court trails are coming up, in Vienna, one
against Anton pelinka, this time because of a CNN interview where Pelinka
said "Comparing immigrants to paqrasites is what the Nazis did regarding the
Jews. I doubt claims that Haider's thinking that he will build an Auschwitz
deathcamp somewhere for immigrants but he's using the same prejudices, the
same sentiments as the Nazis had to win popular acceptance, exploiting
xenophobia and racism"
This is the second trial against Pelinka. The second trial is against
Wolfgang Neugebauer, see below for more info, who is the director of the
Archiv des Oesterreichiuschen Widerstandes, and has done most valuable
research and documentation about right wing extremism and antisemitism. He
gave an interview to an Austrian Journal "Oesterreich Zeitung" which is
owned by the Social Democratic Party (and said, inter alia, that Haiders
main claim was that "the Jews were guilty for antisemitism. He has tried to
make perpetrators out of the victims." In both cases, Haider's case is led
by the law firm owned by the now minister of Justice in Austria, Dieter
Boehmdorfer, who ahs officially resigned from the firm but whose name is
still in the letter head. The report of the "three wise men" has noted very
strongly that justice and freedom of speech are threatned in Austria through
this relationship between the minister of Justice and Haider. the minister
was Haiders lawyer for years. Both trails take place in Vienna,
Wickenburggasse, 1080 Vienna, 24th October, 9, 15 am.
We all see this as a real threat to freedom of speech and research. Both
accused scholars are very prominent internationally and these trials have
the function to make other scholars stop saying their opinions or - in any
case - make them feel threatned. A third case was taken back, against Andre
Heller, a very famous artist and producer, because the international echo
was enormous (have a look at fpoewatch at; for the report of the "wise men",
see derstandard.at; and also fpoewatch.at; specifically paragraphs 74-100,
and 110).
it would be very important for the international community to voice
protest-writing letters to the chancellor and president of the Republic,
posting advertisments in newspapers, and directing journalists to Vienna for
the 24th October and posting this information on other mailing lists. if you
have means (and a bit of time), please do so!
Thank you
Ruth


Hon. Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Neugebauer
Vienna, 21 September 2000
Scientific director, Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance (DOeW)

Information regarding Dr. Joerg Haider's law suits and the role of Haider's
attorney,
Federal Minister of Justice, Dr. Dieter Boehmdorfer, therein:

1) Law suits by Haider/Boehmdorfer against me among others
2) Active limitation of the unbiasedness of the courts
3) The relationship Haider-Boehmdorfer
4) Incompatibility of being a friend of Haider and Federal Minister of
Justice (for example the case Andreas Moelzer)

1) regarding the law suits Haider/Boehmdorfer:

In my role as director of the DOeW and as honorary professor for
contemporary history at the University of Vienna I have engaged the question
of right-wing extremism in Austria in various publications.  On the basis of
comprehensive research and analyses I have come to the conclusion that
according to our criteria of definition the Freedom Party of Haider must be
seen as right-wing extremist.  Since the publication of the "Handbuch des
oesterreichischen Rechtsextremismus" (Handbook of Austrian Right-Wing
Extremism) in December 1993, Dr. Joerg Haider has initiated several court
cases of criminal and civil law against me and the
DOeW by way of his attorney (and personal confidant), Dr. Dieter
Boehmdorfer.
Last but not least, this was done in the intention of silencing a critic by
financially hurting him.  After Haider had lost some of these cases (for
example, the verdict of the Supreme Court/Oberster Gerichtshof of 22
February 1996) and several counter-suits (due to the term "left-wing
extremist"), a compromise was arranged in 1996 between Dr. Haider and
myself, in which the reciprocal suits were revoked and a Gentlemen's
Agreement was made for future confrontations on political and publishing
bases instead of the courts. Dr. Haider broke this agreement, a non-binding
directive, and in November 1999 initiated anew a law suit on the charge of
"Ehrenbeleidigung" (insulting one's honour) by way of his attorney, Dr.
Boehmdorfer, in which the terms "xenophobic", "right-wing extremist", FPOe
is "responsible for Austria's Nazi-image abroad", and "antisemitic" were
incriminated.  This even though the Supreme Court of Austria (OGH) had
already ruled in an earlier case, that the usage of the terms "xenophobic"
and "right-wing extremist" are part of the freedom of opinion and freedom of
science/scholarship.  A negative end to this case that has been postponed to
24 October 2000 would mean that we would no longer be permitted to publish
the "Handbuch des oesterreichischen
Rechtsextremismus" which is at present in the stages of revising for the
fourth edition.  Similar cases are being fought against the president of the
Jewish Community of Vienna (Israelitische Kultusgemeinde - IKG), Dr. Ariel
Muzicant, Hans Rauscher, a journalist working for "Der Standard", and other
media as well as against politicians of other political parties and even
against comedians and artists.  The potential ruling of this criticism in
scholarship, publishing, art and politics as criminal acts would constitute
a severe infraction of the freedom of opinion, art and science/scholarship
in Austria. Would they not be protected by political immunity, even the
representatives of the European Parliament, who formulated a critical and
negative evaluation of the Haider FPOe, could be persecuted under Austrian
criminal law.

2) regarding the limitation of the unbiasedness of the courts

The independence of the courts is not only defined in Austria by the
constitution, but also generally exists in practice, while this does not
xclude, that in singular incidents party politics take an influence.
In the case of the political scientist, Prof. Anton Pelinka, for example the
proclamation by the primary instance (Landesgericht fuer Strafsachen Wien)
that he was innocent was repealed by the appeals court (Oberlandesgericht,
OGH Wien), a member of which was voted into the executive board (Kuratorium)
of ORF (Austrian Federal Broadcasting Network) on request of the Freedom
Party as a government representative.  This man had already come to
attention previously through questionable rulings in political criminal law
suits (Mag. Ernest Maurer.) Since most likely the other pending court cases
will be put before this senate of the OLG Wien, a similar ruling may be
anticipated. These rulings, then, can no longer be fought in Austria, as an
appeal to the OLG is not possible.  The only remaining possibility is the
very long path through the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
3) regarding Minister of Justice, Boehmdorfer, as Haider attorney and
confidant

The current Minister of Justice, Dr. Dieter Boehmdorfer, has not only been
Dr. Haider's attorney for many years, in which role he fought against
Haider's political enemies in numerous cases, he also functions - I know
this from experience - as a political employee and confidant of Dr. Haider.
As such, Dr. Boehmdorfer invited me, for instance, in September 1993 both by
telephone and in writing to a discussion with then federal party executive
director, Dr. Joerg Haider, in the F-party club at the Hilton Hotel in
Vienna.  Among others, the current members of the government, Dr.
Riess-Passer and Scheibner, also participated in this discussion.  After
this event, a still half-way amiable disputation, I received several letters
from Dr. Boehmdorfer that were written in Dr. Haider's name, in which the
participation of the FPOe in the board of the DoeW was out-right demanded.
For several reasons (the German Nationalist basic worldview, Haider's
pro-Nazi comments, court cases aginst the DOeW that had been instigated in
the meantime) the board of the DoeW  rejected this demand.
In any case, this attempt of a political approximation to the DOeW has
nothing to do with the mere activity as attorney; more so, Dr. Boehmdorfer
fulfilled political demands of FPOe leader Dr. Haider.

4) regarding the incompatibility Haider employee/Federal Minister of Justice
using the example of Andreas Moelzer

Dr. Joerg Haider's law suits against me and others are being continued by
the law office Boehmdorfer & Gheneff, in spite of the fact that Dr.
Boehmdorfer was made Federal Minister of Justice.  On letters filed by the
law office a mere note states that Dr. Boehmdorfer's license as attorney is
dormant for the duration of his engagement as Minister.  Even though there
is no formal misdemeanor, the change of circumstances may take an influence
on justice. The potential incompatibility of the role as Minister of Justice
and the former role as Freedom Party attorney and political employee of
Haider is apparent in the case of the publisher and editor-in-chief of the
journal, "Zur Zeit", Andreas Moelzer.  Andreas Moelzer is himself a close
collaborator of Dr. Haider (as for instance he is the deputee of cultural
affairs of the provincial gouvernor of Carinthia, none other than Haider.)
The DOeW filed a law suit against "Zur Zeit" at the state attorney's office
in Vienna in June 1999 on the suspicion of "nationalsozialistische
Wiederbetaetigung" (National Socialist "reactivation")  In a review of a
"revisionist" book the Holocaust had been denied (the impossibility of "mass
gassings" in the National Socialist concentration  camps.) As is evident
from answers by Dr. Boehmdorfer to parliamentary inqueries, a legal
pre-investigation was initiated against the author of the article, Hans
Gamlich, however the investigation against the accountable editor-in-chief
and publisher of the journal, Andreas Moelzer, was stopped on request by the
office of the state attorney and with the knowledge and approval of the
Federal Ministry of Justice.  The bottom line is that a friend of Haider's,
Dr. Boehmdorfer, is the one to make decisions regarding another friend of
Haider's, Andreas Moelzer.  Due to his right to give directives to the
offices of the state attorneys, the Minister of Justice may at his
discretion end any investigions against members of of the FPOe and initiate
investigations against opponents of the FPOe.

Ruth Wodak
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics
University of Vienna
Berggasse 11
1090 Vienna
Austria
and
Research Center ¬ĄDiscourse, Politics, Identity"
Austrian Academy of Sciences
Strohgasse 45, 1030 Vienna
Tel: 7102510/6201
Fax: 710250710



More information about the Critics-l mailing list