Note: The contents in words and pictures of this article are based on the facts when it was first published (22.11.2010).Vienna, 22nd November 2010
Animal Protection Trial: Undercover Agent within VGT confirmed
Investigators and Prosecution give false evidence in Court. Seventeen months active within VGT: Undercover infiltration unlawfully carried out
It has recently been made public that a police special unit undercover agent was in place at the very heart of the VGT from April 2007 until September 2008. In the trial proceedings up until now police have always denied this was the case and have blocked access for the defence to these files. But now, due to proof of the existence of an undercover agent presented by the VGT, police have confirmed that this was the case, but claim that it was a measure to prevent crimes taking place and therefore not subject to authorisation. The VGT strongly refutes this.
Eberhart Theuer, human rights expert form the University of Vienna: “Undercover investigations for the prevention of crime are only possible under the security police law (SPG). Undercover investigating under this law consists only of the gathering of information. Infiltration and active participation, as was the case with the undercover agent 'Danielle Durand' within the VGT, is not permissible. And in any case, undercover information gathering necessitates a warrant, which the police did not have. In addition, the use of the security police law in this case is inappropriate due to the fact that clear suspects had already been identified.”
Head of VGT Dr Martin Balluch: “The police are obviously trying desperately to hush up their methods of investigation. And when this is no longer possible they come up with crime prevention excuses. The judge has now summoned the undercover agent to the witness box. This will be the end of the case because this spy knows first hand that there is no criminal organisation connected with the VGT. If she had discovered anything criminal, it would have surfaced in the prosecution files long ago.”
The defence and VGT have announced that they will bring charges against the special unit and the prosecution for giving false evidence before the court:
- On 28th July 2010 the head of the special unit Erich Zwettler told the court that the undercover investigation had produced no results and was discontinued in 2007.
- In addition, the special unit's Bettina Bogner on 8th April and on 22nd July and Josef Böck on 28th July claimed in court that the undercover investigation had failed due to the conspirative behaviour of people with the VGT.
- And prosecutor Wolfgang Handler told the court on 22th July that the undercover agent had been suspended since 1st January 2008.
Now police admit that the undercover investigation continued until the end of July 2008.
The undercover agent 'Danielle Durand' will testify in court on the 13th December, albeit not in front of the viewing public.
A further aspect of this spy story could also have legal consequences for the special unit:
- On 28th July head of the special unit Erich Zwettler told the court that there had been no undercover investigation outside of Austria.
VGT points out however, that there is proof that the agent 'Danielle Durant' travelled to and participated in an international animal rights gathering that lasted several days and took place in Holland and an Animal Liberation Workshop in Switzerland. “When this assignment abroad was not arranged with the Dutch and Swiss authorities, which, from Erich Zwettler's testimony was the case, then international laws have also been contravened” explained defence lawyer in the animal protection trial Stefan Traxler.