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Note: The contents in words and pictures of this article are based on the facts when it was first published (09.05.2011).

Vienna, am 09.05.2011

A Not-Guilty Verdict in the Animal Protection Trial!!!!!!!!!!!

The verdict on the 2nd May 2011 was indeed a historic one: The judge acquitted all 13 defendants of all charges and added that police had lied under oath, had undertaken illegal investigations and suppressed results of their investigations

The court was already a frenzy of activity at 7 in the morning. Media, activists, friends, family and supporters jostled for a place and waited eagerly for the last day of this 14 month long mega trial. Most people expected that the defendants would be acquitted on the charge of Section 278a, the anti-Mafia law, but that the judge might excuse the 4 1/2 year long investigations by finding some of the defendants guilty of some minor charge. But all were found not-guilty in all points! The judge based her verdict on proved innocence, expressed understanding for anger towards police and the judiciary system and called the head of the special police unit a liar.

The judge explained in her verdict that there is no criminal organisation in the Austrian animal protection movement

Therefore it was impossible for any of the defendants to be members of one. She went on to say that computer encryption is understandable given the nature of VGT's civil disobedience activities: 'The animal protection movement has a long history. One has to appreciate the confrontational nature of this history which campaigners have had to live with'.

The trial took so long because, according to her, in addition to two extensive complaints being filed, the defence was so excessive. The defendants' behaviour also made her job difficult, but given what came to light about the police lying and suppressing exonerating evidence, she found this behaviour understandable.

The judge stated that the head of the special investigation unit, Erich Zwettler, had lied in court about the details concerning an undercover agent. The undercover operation was in fact illegal and he had lied in an attempt to prevent this coming to light. She went on to say that the crown-witness, Franz-Joseph Plank from www.animal-spirit.at, who had claimed to know of criminal activity of some of the defendants, was also simply an out and out liar.
The judge's verdict confirms what VGT has said all along: There was never any reasonable suspicion against any of the accused. The police lied to the court, carried out their investigations illegally and suppressed exonerating evidence  Now we will see if those concerned will be held accountable for their actions.

State Prosecutor to appeal

The State Prosecutor has since expressed his intention ot appeal the judge's verdict. This move led to much criticism in the press with journalists citing how much tax payers' money has already been wasted on such a ridiculous trial. VGT has already filed a case against the police.

University research project to examine the trial

In a press conference earlier this week an interdisciplinary team of academics from the University of Vienna announced that they are to start a research project examining and assessing the so called animal protection trial. The project will concentrate on this case as set in the wider context of the increasing international trend of restricting civil rights under the guise of preventing terrorism.



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