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Judge baffled by ‘fake abortion’ trial

A 49-year-old woman who was accused by an ex-boyfriend of having faked an abortion in order to get money from him has been acquitted after a judge at Vienna’s Regional Court said he had no idea who was telling the truth.

Judge baffled by 'fake abortion' trial
Judge Georg Olschak had "no idea". Photo: APA/Punz

The defendant said she had got to know the man in 2011 and they had fallen in love. She said he had wanted to have a child but when she did become pregnant he changed his mind. “Suddenly his mother said he shouldn’t be having a child,” a witness and close friend of the woman told the judge.

The 49-year-old woman said she flew to London to have an abortion at a special clinic and that the man said he would cover the costs – which came to €3,350.  

However, once the relationship ended the man said he began to have doubts that the woman had actually been pregnant and had an abortion. He said the hospital bill which she gave him had no invoice number and spelling errors – and that the doctor who allegedly performed the abortion wasn’t known of at the clinic. He believes that his ex forged the bill, and filed a complaint against her.

The woman swore that she did have an abortion, and said she was forced to after her ex threatened her. However, her description of events also cast some doubt on her testimony as the airline she claimed she flew to London with wasn’t operating any flights from Vienna on the day that she said she flew out. When confronted by the judge she said that she had actually flown with British Airways and had got confused.

A psychiatrist who treated her three times a week, after the abortion, testified that she suffered from “depression and post-traumatic stress disorder” which he was convinced was caused by her experience. “The images haunted her, and these are things that she could not have invented,” he said.

Judge Georg Olschak summed up by saying that he was not going to charge the woman as he had “no idea” what had really happened.

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CRIME

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

Following the suicide of an Austrian doctor who received threats from Covid-19 anti-vaccination activists, the government has now launched a new campaign to help victims of online abuse.

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

The Austrian medical community was left in shock in July when Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a local doctor in Seewalchen am Attersee in Upper Austria, took her own life following months of online abuse.

Kellermayr, 36, had been targeted by anti-vaccination activists and Covid-19 conspiracy theorists for her out-spoken support of vaccines, and the abuse even included death threats. 

Her death prompted candlelight vigils and demonstrations in Vienna and the tragic story was picked up by news outlets around the world.

READ MORE: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

This led to calls for tighter laws against online bullying and the ability for perpetrators to be prosecuted in other EU countries – particularly as at least two of the people who are believed to have targeted Kellermayr are based in Germany, according to the Guardian.

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has even called for the creation of a special public prosecutor’s office to deal with “hate-on-the-net”, but this has been rejected by prosecutors and other political parties, as reported by ORF.

Instead, the Federal Justice Department has launched a new information campaign, website and hotline to help people dealing with online abuse.

FOR MEMBERS: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

What is in the new campaign?

Austria’s Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) said they have launched the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to inform victims about the support available.

Zadic said: “It is important to me that those affected know that they are not alone in this situation and that the judiciary supports them with free psychological and legal process support.”

“You don’t have to cope alone with the extraordinary burdens that criminal proceedings can entail, for example through confrontation with the perpetrators.”

READ ALSO: Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Part of the support package is the new website Hilfe bei Gewalt (Help with Violence), which details how to access help from the authorities, as well as secure free legal advice and representation from a lawyer.

The website states the service is for victims of bullying and/or hate online, defamation, stalking, terrorism, incitement, sexual violence and robbery.

The service is designed to be anonymous with options to contact the Justice Department by phone or via a chat box. The website also lists contact details for regional support services in all provinces across Austria. 

The free (kostenlos) hotline for Hilfe bei Gewalt is 0800 112 112.

Useful links

Hilfe bei Gewalt

Austrian Federal Justice Department

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