Austria Alters Law on Restitution

We urge the global Jewish community to study the case of Stephan Templ [1] as the Austrian government has appeared to alter its laws on restitution through the use of extraordinary discretion. Austria’s actions in this case set a new precedent whereby if currently state-owned property was once looted from your family, Austria will return it to you for free, with no need for application forms, deadlines or anything other than proof of hereditary lineage.

In this case, a Dr Kretschmer had not applied for restitution in time and so according to Austria’s restitution laws, she had missed her chance to be considered eligible for restitution of property that had once belonged to her family. In a show of extraordinary generosity, the State donated its rights to the property to her free of charge. To our knowledge, no other heirs have received such a generous gift and in Dr Kretschmer’s case, it was gifted to her in a secret transfer deed signed by representatives of the Republic of Austria.[2]

Continue reading Austria Alters Law on Restitution

Stephan Templ Still Held in Prison Despite Prosecutor’s Admission

The following press release was distributed to media today:

LONDON, U.K. March 16, 2016 – The continued incarceration of Jewish journalist Stephan Templ by the Republic of Austria despite the existence of exculpatory evidence represents an unimaginable miscarriage of justice, says his international lawyer Robert Amsterdam.

Templ, who has been serving a sentence since October 15, 2015 on a charge relating to a restitution claim he filed for the recovery of Nazi-looted property, has presented documents proving that he disclosed all required information concerning other family members, yet the Austrian government continues to refuse to act.

Additionally, on 16 February, Vienna’s Higher State Prosecutor issued a judicial statement recognizing that it cannot be ruled out that evidence exists that would have changed the original decision in the Stephan Templ matter.

“In any ordinary circumstance, such a discovery of evidence and statement from a prosecutor would trigger the immediate re-opening of the case and the release of Mr. Templ pending the outcome,” said Mr. Amsterdam. “But clearly as we have seen over and over in the State’s treatment of this case, this is not an ordinary circumstance, and they appear determined to continue to inflict suffering.”

Instead of re-opening of the case, the Prosecutor instead recommended that a witness from the original hearing be heard again in the lower courts, while Templ remains in jail.

Amsterdam says the State’s conduct is deplorable. “This decision ignores the real and ongoing harm being suffered by Stephan Templ while being imprisoned, and reveals itself as a move to run out the clock before Stephan Templ’s likely early release in April.”

More information on the case and the latest documents are available at https://stephantempl.com.

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Stephan Templ Still Held in Prison Despite Prosecutor’s Admission

LONDON, U.K. March 16, 2016 – The continued incarceration of Jewish journalist Stephan Templ by the Republic of Austria despite the existence of exculpatory evidence represents an unimaginable miscarriage of justice, says his international lawyer Robert Amsterdam.

Templ, who has been serving a sentence since October 15, 2015 on a charge relating to a restitution claim he filed for the recovery of Nazi-looted property, has presented documents proving that he disclosed all required information concerning other family members, yet the Austrian government continues to refuse to act.

Additionally, on 16 February, Vienna’s Higher State Prosecutor issued a judicial statement recognizing that it cannot be ruled out that evidence exists that would have changed the original decision in the Stephan Templ matter.

Continue reading Stephan Templ Still Held in Prison Despite Prosecutor’s Admission

Austria Continues to Hold Wrongfully Imprisoned Author Stephan Templ, says Lawyer Robert Amsterdam

LONDON, Feb. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — The Republic of Austria is continuing to hold prisoner the author and Jewish rights activistStephan Templ despite the presentation of crucial new evidence, his lawyers say.

Mr. Templ, who was convicted of “concealing” the existence of a family member in a restitution claim for Nazi-looted property in Vienna, has been held in jail since October 2015. However, the evidence used to secure that conviction has finally been revealed to his lawyers, who say that the Arbitration Panel in charge of restitution claims is proven to have known of Mr. Templ’s aunt by 2006.

“After years of denials and refusals, Mr. Templ’s legal team was finally granted access to view documents which conclusively prove that the Austrian authorities had knowledge of Mr. Templ’s aunt,” said Robert Amsterdam, an international lawyer with Amsterdam & Partners LLP, which represents Mr. Templ. “It is completely implausible for Austria to claim that Templ concealed the existence of the aunt when the name is mentioned at least six times in documents he himself submitted to the panel.”

Mr. Amsterdam says that the Republic of Austria should immediately release Stephan Templ and initiate an investigation. “It’s time to end this reprehensible farce. We have a situation here where Austria acknowledges these thefts by the Nazi regime, but then jails the victim of the theft, despite the absence of any damaged party. It is difficult not to see shades of retrograde official anti-Semitism in this case.”

The latest documents and more information about the case is available at https://stephantempl.com.

SOURCE Amsterdam & Partners LLP

Did Austria Try to Cover Up Exculpatory Evidence against Stephan Templ?

As part of our efforts to defend Stephan Templ from the unjust and arbitrary persecution by the Austrian authorities, we have been reviewing all the published decisions (recommendations) published on the website of the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism, the institution responsible for adjudicating property looted by the Nazi regime back to their original owners.

By law, the National Fund is under an obligation to publish all recommendations online. In June this year their website was revamped, and relaunched with all the same data … except for just one missing decision.

Mr. Templ, the investigative journalist that he is, was able to track down the paper copy of this one single missing decision. Interestingly, it contained a very important case precedence. In the penultimate paragraph of decision WA1/2007, the following is written:

In this regard, it should be merely be mentioned that a criminally (or otherwise) sanctioned obligation of an heir to reveal in probate proceedings the existence of other heirs does not exist. Only a wrong statement during a formal questioning in the matter, as for instance in the recording of the death could have relevance.

This evidence is hugely important for the Stephan Templ case and directly underlines why he is innocent. The decision taken in case WA1/2007, which was conveniently removed from the Fund’s website for a time, shows that one does not have an obligation to state the existence of other heirs – which is exactly contrary to what was said in Stephan’s case.

What is interesting is that National Fund had released a FAQ on this case on the 4 June 2014, while Stephan’s final court decision was pending (which is not right, in our view) where they stated that one had to name other heirs if they knew of them. Further, in testimony in the first trial, Claire Fritsch, the legal adviser to the Arbitration Panel (of the National Fund) also answered positively to the question that one had to name other heirs.

Thus, the National Fund has publicly declared something which this decision now suggests was wrong and a representative of the Fund testified making the same claim – and her testimony was said by the judge to be reliable and credible and it likely had an effect on the verdict.

We denounced this cover up by the Austrian authorities during a September 22 press conference. The next day, September 23, one of our lawyers took a screenshot for our records. Then guess what happens on September 24? The National Fund quietly puts decision WA1/2007 back up online without comment!

Screenshot taken 23 September 2015 crop
Screenshot of Decision WA/1/2007 taken 23 September 2015
Screenshot taken 24 September 2015 crop
Screenshot of Decision WA/1/2007 taken 24 September 2015

 

There are no words for this sort of unsavoury conduct by the Austrian authorities, who appear to be doing everything in their power to throw this innocent man in jail because of who he is and what he has said.