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Akademikerball trial continues

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Akademikerball trial continues
Josef S in court. Photo: APA/Neubauer
14:24 CEST+02:00
The trial of a German student who has been in custody since his participation in demonstrations against the Akademikerball (Academic's Ball) in January this year, continues.

Josef S., 23, is thought to be a member of the extreme left-wing Black Bloc (Schwarzen Block) and is accused of breaching the peace, causing serious damage to property and of grievous bodily harm during protests against the FPÖ's student fraternity ball.

Identified by the police as a ringleader, the young man is alleged to have smashed windows and thrown stones and other objects at officers.

His lawyer, Clemens Breitlahner, said Josef was "at the demonstrations, but was a peaceful participant and had nothing to do with these crimes. We believe there has been some confusion and our client was arrested in error."

The defendant declined to comment on the allegations.

A solidarity rally was held outside the criminal court and numerous interested parties were unable to find a place in the packed courtroom.

Some observers had come from Germany for the trial.

Josef's father had travelled from the university town of Jena, south of Leipzig.

"A shadow has been hanging over our lives since the arrest and we can't deal with it. Our life has totally changed," the distraught father told ORF. "We are striving to show that our son is not a violent offender."

Numerous witnesses were called to testify, including chemical experts who presented a report which aims to determine whether the sweater and glove of the accused show traces of a smoke bomb.

No nitrite particles were found on the young man's hoodie and left glove, however three nitrite particles were discovered on his right glove.

According to the expert witness this indicates "a high probability that he had ignited a pyrotechnic object."

The expert was unable to come to a firm conclusion. "The particles could also have been blown onto the glove if he was standing next to a smoke bomb, although then it would be likely also to find particles on clothes."

Two photographers and one ORF cameraman also took to the witness stand on Monday morning.

Despite being in the middle of the action, none had seen the accused igniting a smoke bomb or engaging in violent behaviour.

One photographer testified that the accused was not to be seen in any of the 700 photos he took during the violence.

Video recordings submitted as incriminating evidence on the first day of the trial have also shown no connection to the defendant. Voice analysis of the recordings, made by a policeman on his private mobile phone, have proved that the recordings are not of the accused.

When the trial began on June 6th, the defendant pleaded not guilty, however the judge refused a request for bail.

A trial against a second man, also accused of leading violent protests against the Akademikerball, will begin on August 18th.

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