Three Thousand Self Indictments Dropped

The Austrian Senior Public Prosecutor’s Office has responded to 3000 cases of self indictment saying that it finds them to be lacking in ‘seriousness’ regarding the announcement of a campaign against sports store EYBL and therefore, no proceedings will be started.

Their response is despite the fact that the campaign is already in full swing!

In an historic act of solidarity last year, over 3000 people sent a voluntary disclosure or self indictment to the Austrian prosecutor’s office stating they they too were just as ‘guilty’ as the five individuals due to be retried in the second animal protection trial at the beginning of April this year. The 3000 people had put together an email to the company EYBL in which they announced the commencement of a campaign should the company fail to make a statement saying they would stop selling fur. This campaign would run exactly along the lines of the campaign against the company Kleider Bauer. Now, the senior prosecutor’s office has closed each of the 3000 files without carrying out any investigations. According to them, the company’s management had no cause for concern because the email had been worded in such a way as to lead them to believe that the self indictments were intended as a protest against the judiciary and not with the intention to really start a campaign against EYBL.

One of the 3000, VGT’s Martin Balluch, had the following to say:

The senior prosecutor’s office doubts the seriousness of our self indictments, but the fact is that the campaign is already in full swing! There have been demonstrations since December 2013 and many in-store actions took place over the Christmas period in EYBL branches throughout Austria. In addition to this, thousands of people are being informed about EYBL’s questionable business practices via posters, leaflets and electronic media. All this leads to people deciding not to shop at EYBL. These circumstances are exactly the same as those in the charge of serious coercion in the upcoming retrial.

This action is not at all directed at the judiciary, rather at the threat to democracy. According to the expert report from Professor Petra Velten, using a hard but legal campaign to force a company into not selling fur by informing and influencing customers can be seen as a ‘dangerous threat’ (defined in the law as not being automatically criminal)  but not as criminal coercion. In the second wave of self indictments we will draw the senior prosecutor’s office’s attention to their mistaken interpretation of our intention. This time we will make our demand that EYBL pull out of the fur trade clear in exactly the same way as the emails cited in the retrial do. Then we will see in what other ways the circumstances can be construed differently. Either that, or thousands of people will end up in court!

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