At around 14:00 on the first day the judge unexpectedly ended the planned 2 day trial after passing a not guilty verdict in all counts. In the morning the coercion charge was dealt with and the two owners of Kleider Bauer were called as witnesses. Then in the early afternoon the judge ended the trial saying it was unnecessary to hear any more witnesses. The prosecution complained but to no avail and after a short recess he gave his verdict:
- The emails were not grounds enough to give rise to concern as the protest announced in them was legal.
- Had there been previous dealings between the managing directors, brothers Peter and Werner Graf and Felix they could have felt threatened – but this was not the case.
- The documented evidence from the first trial shows that the managing directors described the campaign only as a nuisance and nothing of criminal relevance could be attributed to Felix. Management made the connection between other anti fur protests and criminal damage much later, after the emails showing that they didn’t feel threatened.
- Although it was possible that some customers were made to feel uncomfortable by the demos, this was not proof that the campaign had the intention of damaging business. The campaign didn’t directly influence business and campaigners cannot threaten, they can only warn.
- To find someone guilty of criminal coercion it is necessary to establish that there was a concrete financial threat. This couldn’t have been the case because if the brothers Graf had really felt the campaign was impacting their turnover they would have found the energy to report this to the authorities. They didn’t do this despite claiming that there had been massive loss of turnover. This suggests that there was in fact no loss and therefore nothing to feel threatened by.