This is it folks!

Tuesday 27.5 and Wednesday 28.5 are the final retrial dates. Now it’s all about Felix Hnat and the charges against him of coercion, criminal damage and obstructing the police. Felix, like the others in the original trial, was fully acquitted in the first trial.

Tomorrow Felix will be tried for coercion  As part of a campaign to stop clothing store Kleider bauer selling fur, Felix was the person who attempted to communicate with the management. He sent polite emails asking them to talk with us, to allow us to show them why fur is a problem, to try and find a solution without having demos outside the stores. He informed them about other companies who had stopped selling fur and who were consequently being promoted by animal organisations  on their ‘fur free’ lists. He also informed them that there would be awareness raising demos outside the stores to inform the public about the company’s involvement with the fur trade should they fail to agree to opt out of the trade. These attempts to make contact were ignored and the resulting awareness raising demos continue to this day. This email correspondence forms the basis for the charge against Felix of coercion.

Anyone familiar with NGO work will recognise this as classic campaigning.  The supposed  ‘threat’ was the commencement of legal demonstrations registered with the police. The prosecution will no doubt try to argue that the demos could result in loss of earnings amounting to economic damage. But how can it be loss if the sales were not actually made?  And furthermore, taken seriously, this argument could also be applied to competitors. The prosecution’s attempt to criminalise this strategy is similar to their misuse of anti-Mafia laws in the first instance. For more detailed criticism of the coercion charge see this post:

http://www.shameonaustria.org/2014/02/21/law-professors-strong-criticism-of-court-decision-to-proceed-with-retrial/

For those who don’t know, Felix is the head of the Austrian Vegan Society. Here he is straight after the aquittal at the first trial. We look forward to taking another thumbs up picture tomorrow!

photo

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