On the other hand – and this makes things a little more complicated – the associations and NGOs have grown up. In the first phase, the emergence, when they were small and insignificant, they also acted like little children who desperately want something and blindly lash out, throw themselves on the ground. You know that. So, these movements were smiled at and pushed to the sidelines. Then came the time of adolescence, the time of arson attacks and other acts of violence. This was also relatively easy to get a grip on, because it is very easy to take action against people who cause harm to others. Especially legal. In the meantime, the adult stage has been reached and the various activities have been thought through and prepared. Reports, expert opinions and well-founded research form the basis of the requirements and are used to work towards appropriate changes in the law. Educational work is backed up with the appropriate arguments. The activists developed into well-informed, serious discussion partners. That made it much harder to take action against them.
The last resort was § 278a, which was vague enough to arrest people for three and a half months without any evidence and also involve them in a 98-day trial. It was shown in an exemplary manner that there can only be one winner, no matter how the process ends, there is only one winner: the state. It doesn’t matter to the civil servants, from the prison guards to the members of the SOKO to the public prosecutor and judge, how long the process takes, because they do their work and get paid for it. The situation of the activists is completely different. For them, three and a half months in custody means that they can no longer pursue their jobs and can no longer support their families. The consequence is the loss of jobs or customers, if it is a self-employed worker, up to evictions because you can no longer pay the rent. Three times a week having to commute to Wr. Neustadt during the process, which in turn took months, also made it impossible to pursue a regular job. When the acquittal came at the end of the trial, on the 98th day, it was certainly a victory, but a Pyrrhic victory. Livelihoods and relationships had collapsed during this month-long struggle.
It was May 2nd, 2011, but the events have not let go of those affected to this day and will never let them go. They will never feel safe in their own four walls again, because they had to experience how fragile and illusionary this security was. Moreover, by people who should legally guarantee this security. Never again will it be possible to face a stranger impartially, because who knows whether it might not be someone pushing their way into life again to spy, to gain trust and curry favor in order to pursue goals that are in the secret lie. Never again will it be possible to see the rule of law for what it should be: a construct to protect citizens from real crime.
Several years have now passed. Acquittals had been issued at that time. Until then, a lot of financial resources had to be invested, especially in lawyers. Now it is usually the case that the loser has to pay for the legal costs, which also includes the costs of the opponent. That is the normal sense of justice. Because whoever starts a dispute and loses it should be responsible for the consequences. If the mental and emotional damage that arose from this process cannot be repaired, at least the financial ones should. That’s what the main defendant thought, who has been sitting on a mountain of debt of € 600,000 since the trial and brought an action for damages. This was carefully processed by the competent judge. But not only this, she took it upon herself to go through the entire trial files again. Her summary is as frightening as it is pathetic. Not only is the claim for damages rejected, but the main suspect at the time is supposed to pay €41,300 in damages because he had the nerve to claim his right. Furthermore, the judge disapproved of the judge’s verdict in the original trial, dismissing all testimonies as irrelevant and indirectly calling for the conviction.
For me, the rule of law in Austria means – to sum up these events: You can be arrested and imprisoned even if you have done nothing. You can be forced to appear in court for months to have that nothing heard. And last but not least, you will be asked to check out as a thank you that your financial existence was destroyed.
So, it’s very fortunate that you live in a constitutional state!