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Austrian Identitarians walk free after they win appeal

On Wednesday afternoon, the appeal hearing against 17 members and sympathizers of the Identitarian Movement Austria (IBÖ) took place in the Graz Regional Appeal Court. The Higher Regional Court has confirmed all acquittals.

Published: January 24, 2019, 8:42 am

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    All activists have been acquitted of the charge of “formation of a criminal organisation” as well as incitement. The judge noted that it was not a movement that seeks to commit incitement or serious damage to property.

    The public prosecutor’s office had called “Islamization kills” a hateful slogan – but the court had ruled against it: Hate or property damage are “not at the core of identity movements”.

    The Identitary Movement Austria was therefore acquitted in the first instance in the summer of 2018, but an appeal process against seventeen defendants was launched and heard on 23 January 2019.

    The same verdict as before was confirmed by the Regional Appeal Court this week. The attempt to smash the largest patriotic NGO in Austria and to destroy the social existence of the leaders has thus failed.

    “We will do everything in 2019 to be the first and last patriots to do that! No one should be afraid to give an opinion,” IBÖ spokesman Martin Sellner commented after the outcome was announced.

    About six months ago, 17 activists and sympathizers of the movement was held responsible for, among other things, of forming a criminal organisation under §278 StGB. The full list of charges were: hate speech, membership and founding of a criminal organisation, property damage and coercion.

    After a total of ten trial days, however, it became clear that the facts were not on the side of the accusers in this case. Therefore, all parties were acquitted and allowed to walk free.

    Also to the accusation of the hate (§283 StGB) were dismissed by the court. Two defendants, however, were convicted of assault and coercion or property damage with fines of €720 and €240, respectively.

    Already in July last year, the seventeen defendants saw their homes searched and their accounts and electronic devices seized, even though the judge already stated in the first instance: The protest of the Identitarian Movement took place within the framework of the democratic constitutional state.

    “We will remind the government of its duty to protect our fundamental right to freedom of expression. No Austrian should be afraid to address Islamization, mass immigration and imported crime,” said Sellner.

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