There are only a few days left before Austria is due to imprison the journalist Stephan Templ despite a total absence of grounds in what has become the most outrageous example of persecution by a European government with undeniable overtones of official anti-Semitism. This announcement was placed in the newspaper Der Standard crying out against the injustice.
Almost four months after our last letter to the Attorney General, we have just this week received a response. It is characteristically brusque, and again rejects all our entreaties. It is, however, no clearer than his first reply and it does not answer the questions we raised.
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.
This open letter to the Attorney General of Austria Dr Werner Pleischl raises a number of the multiple factual and legal errors in the prosecution of Mr Templ, and highlights the fundamental injustice of the conduct by the Austrian authorities. The full text of the letter follows – a PDF version of the document can be downloaded here.