• Austria's news in English

Templ case 'gross violation of justice'

The Local · 8 Sep 2014, 14:31

Published: 08 Sep 2014 14:31 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“This case is a gross violation of the basic principles of justice,” Robert Amsterdam from Amsterdam and Partners law firm told The Local. “It’s the only case we can find where charges such as this have been brought against an individual,” he added.

In late February, Austria’s highest court upheld the judgement of a lower court that sentenced Templ to three years in prison - for what can at best be described as failing to comply with a bureaucratic request.

Judges declared that he had tried to enrich himself by deliberately omitting to name his estranged aunt, who also owned a share of the property, in his mother’s restitution claim.

However, Amsterdam told The Local that he wouldn’t have taken on the case if he didn’t believe that there was something darker behind the judge’s decision.

“If you read the court transcripts and see how many times they referred to Templ as greedy… this is really a very serious case and it’s quite odious when you look back at Austria’s history,” he said.

Templ, an Austrian journalist, wrote a book revealing the extent to which the Austrians were among the first Nazi profiteers to expropriate property from Vienna’s large Jewish population after Hitler annexed the country in 1938.

One of the victims of the Vienna Nazis’ property-stealing was Templ’s grandmother. She was the part-owner of a large private sanatorium for wealthy Jews. After Hitler’s arrival, the Nazis confiscated the building.

After the war, Austria was slow in returning the sanatorium to its rightful owners. It was only after the signing of an agreement between Austria and the US in 2000 that Austria conceded that it had a moral responsibility to hand back property stolen by the Nazis.

Mr Templ’s mother, Helene, who is an 80-year-old Holocaust survivor, then became the rightful heir to a family share in the sanatorium.

Mr Templ applied for restitution on his mother’s behalf in 2005. He was successful and his mother later managed to sell her share of the building.

Mr Templ thought the matter had been concluded. But then in January 2013 he discovered that he had been indicted by prosecutors on charges of defrauding the Austrian Republic.

Vienna’s criminal court upheld the charges against him and sentenced him to three years’ imprisonment.

The judge ruled he had tried to “unlawfully enrich himself”, that he was “greedy” and that he wanted “the highest amount of money for himself” regarding his mother’s restitution case.

Mr Templ, who lives in Prague, has said that he feels he is being punished for the things he wrote in his book, which upset the authorities, and that the verdict was also an attempt to deter others from claiming restitution from the state.

His alleged crime was based on a ruling by the Austrian courts whose validity is being examined by the European Court of Human Rights.

The judges argued that by failing to mention his aunt, his mother’s share was double what it should have been as it included what could have been the aunt’s stake in the building.

However they concluded that it was not the aunt who was the victim but the Austrian state which was technically the owner of the property at the time of its restitution. The judges ruled that Mr Templ had therefore tried to defraud the state.

Story continues below…

Mr Templ’s lawyers argue the Austrian state cannot claim a property which was acknowledged to have been stolen and has since been returned to the heirs of the rightful owners. They maintain the state cannot therefore claim to be the injured party.

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
ECJ puts brakes on deportation of Iraqi family
Photo: ORF

An Iraqi family threatened with deportation has been granted a brief reprieve after the European Court of Justice recommended they be allowed to stay in Austria for the time being.

Flats evacuated after man swallows explosive substance
A decontamination squad was ordered in. Photo: MA 68 Lichtbildstelle

A block of flats in Vienna had to be evacuated after a suicidal resident swallowed a highly toxic and explosive substance.

'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.

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