• Austria's news in English

German student freed after guilty verdict

The Local · 23 Jul 2014, 10:31

Published: 23 Jul 2014 10:31 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The 23-year-old from the German university town of Jena, near Leipzig, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

He has already spent four months in pre-trial detention following his arrest on the night of the ball, which is linked to far-right politics.

The remaining eight months of his sentence have been declared non-custodial.

Judge Thomas Spreitzer at Vienna's Regional Criminal Court said Josef, believed to be a member of the extreme left-wing Black Blok (Schwarze Block) was clearly a ringleader in the violent protests, in which shop windows were smashed and police officers attacked.

The process leading to the verdict has drawn sharp criticism from many, including German media and the Secretary General of Amnesty International Austria, Heinz Patzelt.

'Left-wing riot tourist'

The charge was based almost solely on information provided by a policeman who attended the riots in a civil reconnaissance capacity.

Despite contradictions between his statements and those of other policemen present that evening, the judge dismissed the discrepancies as "explainable errors".

In response to the fact the accused did not appear in any of the prolific video or photographic documentation of the riots, the judge stated "it is a good thing we do not live in a police state, where everything is recorded".

In his closing statement, the prosecutor painted an image of "a left-wing riot tourist who had not travelled to Vienna to demonstrate against right-wing extremists, but rather to ravage the city with a group of anarchists".

Heinz Patzelt, from Amnesty International Austria, later criticized the prosecutor's attack as "highly problematic".

Spiegel Online was also disparaging of the trial process: "The process and verdict show three things, how unreliable witness evidence can be. How little one needs to do in Austria to be locked up and convicted of serious offences. And how great the prejudice is in the Austrian police and judicial system against left of centre activists."

The FPÖ and the conservative People Party's (ÖVP) Vienna branch commented positively on the verdict.

Story continues below…

The Greens and the Social Democrats' youth organisation urged for a debate about the law for breaching the peace, which is normally not used in trials any more.

Josef S's parents were both present during the proceedings.

His mother was visibly shaken by the wording of the prosecutor's closing argument, calling it "defamatory" and demanding a public apology.

His father also declared his son had been sentenced unjustly, however he said he was "pleased that the result of the judgement was that our son is free."

Josef S. and his defenders will decide in the coming days whether to appeal the verdict.

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'Horror clown' threatens bus driver in Vienna's Donaustadt
Pennywise, the original scary clown from the movie It. Photo: Warner Bros

A man disguised as a ‘horror clown’ threatened a bus driver in Vienna’s Donaustadt district and vandalised the bus.

Man lived with body of murdered lover for weeks

A man has been arrested in Graz after police discovered the body of his girlfriend hidden in the shower cubicle of their rented apartment.

Austrian far-right leader brands Merkel 'dangerous'
Heinz-Christian Strache. Photo: Facebook/Personal

The head of Austria's far-right Freedom Party has branded Angela Merkel Europe's most dangerous politician.

Austria 'horror clown' attacks leave several injured
Clown performers are not happy about the negative media stories. Photo: Graeme Maclean/Flickr

Several people have been injured in attacks by masked assailants dressed as 'creepy clowns' in the lead-up to Halloween.

Brunnenmarkt murder 'could have been prevented'
Locals remember the murdered woman. Photo: Wien Caritas

The random murder of a woman in Vienna could have been prevented if the homeless and mentally disturbed man who killed her had been admitted to a psychiatric institution.

Iraqi family ask ECJ to help them stay in Austria
Kumberg locals hold a vigil for the family. Photo: ORF

A group of people from Kumberg in Styria have asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for help in trying to stop the deportation of an Iraqi family.

The Local List
Five things you need to know about winter tyres
Photo: carmagazine.co.uk

It’s that time of year when temperatures start to plunge and drivers are advised to switch to winter tyres to avoid being caught out by snow and ice on the roads.

Radioactive uranium rocks on display in Austrian schools
Uraninite crystals. Photo: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com/Wikimedia

Education officials have carried out urgent checks in schools across the country after one of the stones on display in a classroom turned out to be radioactive.

Austrian churches slam far-right's 'God' slogan
Campaign poster for Norbert Hofer. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Austrian church officials have denounced far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer for "instrumentalising" God in a new slogan.

'Scary clown' pushes 14-year-old off his bike in Salzburg
Generic photo: Graeme Maclean/Flickr

A 14-year-old boy in Salzburg has been injured after being pushed off his bike by an individual dressed as a scary clown.

12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available