Minister of Justice’s Response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Stephan Templ’s Case

As written about previously, Marco Schreuder of the Green Party raised our Open Letter to the Attorney General Werner Pleischl in an official Inquiry in Parliament. The Minister of Justice Wolfgang Brandstetter had two months to reply, which he did on the last possible day, 18 February 2015.

His response echoes that of the Attorney General to our original letter : they simply do not want to know. The Minister referred to the decisions that had been taken by the Supreme Court in upholding the original verdict, and that of the Attorney General in not re-opening the case and said that there was nothing further to be done.

Yet again, we are faced with Austrian officials’ total refusal to even entertain the possibility that an error was made in Stephan Templ’s case, even when shown, in detail, that there have been injustices done.

Stephan Templ is seven months away from being imprisoned for a crime that he could not have committed.

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Austrian Justice Minister to Address Stephan Templ Case

Almost 70 years since end of World War II, Austria has largely shed its image as an engine for the Holocaust, and is instead better known these days as a civil, rule-of-law, wealthy country. Nevertheless, a series of recent events shows that the retrogressive anti-Semitic attitudes of the past continue to lurk deep inside the state bureaucracy, at least among some individuals.

Amsterdam & Partners wrote to the Austrian Attorney General Werner Pleischl to highlight the deeply concerning conduct of the prosecution deliberately misleading the media on the details of the case, as well as statements from numerous senior judicial and governmental officials that reject the claim that the Austrian government could ever be considered a victim in this case. We appealed to him for an ‘extraordinary reopening’ of the case that only he has the discretion to allow. We received a terse response rejecting this and all other requests to re-establish justice in this case.

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Attorney General of Austria Summarily Rejects Re-opening of Stephan Templ case

Two and a half months after we sent our Open Letter to the Attorney General of Austria, Dr Werner Pleischl, we received a response. We had written to Dr Pleischl as, in his role of Attorney General , he is the “supreme guardian of the application of the law“. He alone has the discretion to examine the decisions of the courts – even after a conviction – to ensure that they have correctly applied the law and, in cases where an individual has been disadvantaged as a result of an incorrect application of the law, to re-establish justice in such cases by re-opening them.

Given that Stephan Templ’s conviction was based an an extreme mis-application of the law – which has puzzled lawyers, journalists and legal experts – we appealed to the Attorney General to use his authority to  allow this case to be looked at again. We gave detailed reasons for why his discretion applied, raised the numerous errors of fact and errors of law relied upon for the original verdict, and provided an evidential basis of Austrian law and Austrian restitution legislation which underpinned our arguments.

Notwithstanding his tremendous discretion in cases like this, and the purpose of his role to be one of mercy and of justice, we were surprised to receive a brusque one-page ‘response’ that rejected all our claims, with little reasoning and no legal support given.

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