Four found guilty after hooligan brawl
Four men have been found guilty of trespass and assault after their involvement in a violent brawl at a social and cultural centre in the Favoriten suburb of Vienna in October 2013.
Two known football hooligans and two trade unionists were convicted for assault during a fight which broke out at the Ernst Kirchweger-Haus (EKH).
A group of around 30 football hooligans were reportedly involved in the incident - some of them armed with broken broom handles and beer bottles. They forced their way in through the door of the building, which serves as a social centre for migrants, refugees and political groups.
On that day, the building was being used for a meeting of the Comintern Communist club. Two trade union members tried to prevent the hooligans from entering but were badly beaten, with one requiring hospital treatment.
The incident took place on the day of a football match, in which right-wing fans belonging to the "Unsterblich" (Immortal) group of Austria Wien supporters, were on their way to the Generali Arena for a Vienna derby against SK Rapid Wien. Austria Wien has banned the fan group for its racist chants and Hitler salutes.
One fan was handed a 14 month suspended sentence for trespassing and assault, and a second football hooligan was given a 12 month suspended sentence for trespassing. Five football fans were acquitted due to a lack of evidence.
Two Comintern trade unionists who helped eject the hooligans from the building and then went after them were given 12 month suspended sentences for aggravated assault.
The judge said they had not acted purely in self-defence but had “started a hunt” and had attacked one man with a broomstick and a wooden pole.
The football hooligans are reported to have shouted slogans such as “Heil Hitler” and "Foreigners out" in a park before the incident.
Harald Karl, the lawyer defending the trade unionists said that he was disappointed that the judge had not sentenced them under the Prohibition Law, which bans any potential revival of Nazism.
“The political dimension of this story has been ignored," he said. He added that his clients were only in the dock because they had tried to prevent the hooligans from entering the building and causing damage.