Phil Graham on 5 Oct 2000 21:52:32 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] "Handbuch des oesterreichischen Rechtsextremismus"

 From Ruth Wodak
Please circulate
Hon. Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Neugebauer
Vienna, 21 September 2000
Scientific director, Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance (DOeW)
Information regarding Dr. Joerg Haider's law suits and the role of Haider's 
attorney, Federal Minister of Justice, Dr. Dieter Boehmdorfer, therein:

1) Law suits by Haider/Boehmdorfer against me among others
2) Active limitation of the unbiasedness of the courts
3) The relationship Haider-Boehmdorfer
4) Incompatibility of being a friend of Haider and Federal Minister of 
Justice (for example the case Andreas Moelzer)

1) regarding the law suits Haider/Boehmdorfer:

In my role as director of the DOeW and as honorary professor for
contemporary history at the University of Vienna I have engaged the 
question of right-wing extremism in Austria in various publications.  On 
the basis of comprehensive research and analyses I have come to the 
conclusion that according to our criteria of definition the Freedom Party 
of Haider must be seen as right-wing extremist.  Since the publication of 
the "Handbuch des oesterreichischen Rechtsextremismus" (Handbook of 
Austrian Right-Wing Extremism) in December 1993, Dr. Joerg Haider has 
initiated several court cases of criminal and civil law against me and the 
DOeW by way of his attorney (and personal confidant), Dr. Dieter Boehmdorfer.

Last but not least, this was done in the intention of silencing a critic by 
financially hurting him.  After Haider had lost some of these cases (for 
example, the verdict of the Supreme Court/Oberster Gerichtshof of 22 
February 1996) and several counter-suits (due to the term "left-wing 
extremist"), a compromise was arranged in 1996 between Dr. Haider and 
myself, in which the reciprocal suits were revoked and a Gentlemen's 
Agreement was made for future confrontations on political and publishing 
bases instead of the courts. Dr. Haider broke this agreement, a non-binding 
directive, and in November 1999 initiated anew a law suit on the charge of 
"Ehrenbeleidigung" (insulting one's honour) by way of his attorney, Dr. 
Boehmdorfer, in which the terms "xenophobic", "right-wing extremist", FPOe 
is "responsible for Austria's Nazi-image abroad", and "antisemitic" were 
incriminated.  This even though the Supreme Court of Austria (OGH) had 
already ruled in an earlier case, that the usage of the terms "xenophobic" 
and "right-wing extremist" are part of the freedom of opinion and freedom 
of science/scholarship.  A negative end to this case that has been 
postponed to 24 October 2000 would mean that we would no longer be 
permitted to publish the "Handbuch des oesterreichischen Rechtsextremismus" 
which is at present in the stages of revising for the
fourth edition.  Similar cases are being fought against the president of the
Jewish Community of Vienna (Israelitische Kultusgemeinde - IKG), Dr. Ariel 
Muzicant, Hans Rauscher, a journalist working for "Der Standard", and other 
media as well as against politicians of other political parties and even 
against comedians and artists.  The potential ruling of this criticism in 
scholarship, publishing, art and politics as criminal acts would constitute 
a severe infraction of the freedom of opinion, art and science/scholarship
in Austria. Would they not be protected by political immunity, even the 
representatives of the European Parliament, who formulated a critical and 
negative evaluation of the Haider FPOe, could be persecuted under Austrian 
criminal law.

2) regarding the limitation of the unbiasedness of the courts

The independence of the courts is not only defined in Austria by the 
constitution, but also generally exists in practice, while this does not 
xclude, that in singular incidents party politics take an influence.
In the case of the political scientist, Prof. Anton Pelinka, for example the
proclamation by the primary instance (Landesgericht fuer Strafsachen Wien) 
that he was innocent was repealed by the appeals court (Oberlandesgericht, 
OGH Wien), a member of which was voted into the executive board 
(Kuratorium) of ORF (Austrian Federal Broadcasting Network) on request of 
the Freedom Party as a government representative.  This man had already 
come to attention previously through questionable rulings in political 
criminal law suits (Mag. Ernest Maurer.) Since most likely the other 
pending court cases will be put before this senate of the OLG Wien, a 
similar ruling may be anticipated. These rulings, then, can no longer be 
fought in Austria, as an appeal to the OLG is not possible.  The only 
remaining possibility is the very long path through the European Court of 
Human Rights in Strasbourg.
3) regarding Minister of Justice, Boehmdorfer, as Haider attorney and confidant

The current Minister of Justice, Dr. Dieter Boehmdorfer, has not only been 
Dr. Haider's attorney for many years, in which role he fought against 
Haider's political enemies in numerous cases, he also functions - I know 
this from experience - as a political employee and confidant of Dr. 
Haider.  As such, Dr. Boehmdorfer invited me, for instance, in September 
1993 both by telephone and in writing to a discussion with then federal 
party executive director, Dr. Joerg Haider, in the F-party club at the 
Hilton Hotel in Vienna.  Among others, the current members of the 
government, Dr. Riess-Passer and Scheibner, also participated in this 
discussion.  After this event, a still half-way amiable disputation, I 
received several letters from Dr. Boehmdorfer that were written in Dr. 
Haider's name, in which the participation of the FPOe in the board of the 
DoeW was out-right demanded.  For several reasons (the German Nationalist 
basic worldview, Haider's pro-Nazi comments, court cases aginst the DOeW 
that had been instigated in the meantime) the board of the DoeW  rejected 
this demand.
In any case, this attempt of a political approximation to the DOeW has 
nothing to do with the mere activity as attorney; more so, Dr. Boehmdorfer 
fulfilled political demands of FPOe leader Dr. Haider.

4) regarding the incompatibility Haider employee/Federal Minister of 
Justice using the example of Andreas Moelzer

Dr. Joerg Haider's law suits against me and others are being continued by 
the law office Boehmdorfer & Gheneff, in spite of the fact that Dr. 
Boehmdorfer was made Federal Minister of Justice.  On letters filed by the 
law office a mere note states that Dr. Boehmdorfer's license as attorney is 
dormant for the duration of his engagement as Minister.  Even though there 
is no formal misdemeanor, the change of circumstances may take an influence 
on justice. The potential incompatibility of the role as Minister of 
Justice and the former role as Freedom Party attorney and political 
employee of Haider is apparent in the case of the publisher and 
editor-in-chief of the journal, "Zur Zeit", Andreas Moelzer.  Andreas 
Moelzer is himself a close collaborator of Dr. Haider (as for instance he 
is the deputee of cultural affairs of the provincial gouvernor of 
Carinthia, none other than Haider.) The DOeW filed a law suit against "Zur 
Zeit" at the state attorney's office in Vienna in June 1999 on the 
suspicion of "nationalsozialistische Wiederbetaetigung" (National Socialist 
"reactivation")  In a review of a "revisionist" book the Holocaust had been 
denied (the impossibility of "mass gassings" in the National Socialist 
concentration  camps.) As is evident from answers by Dr. Boehmdorfer to 
parliamentary inqueries, a legal pre-investigation was initiated against 
the author of the article, Hans Gamlich, however the investigation against 
the accountable editor-in-chief and publisher of the journal, Andreas 
Moelzer, was stopped on request by the office of the state attorney and 
with the knowledge and approval of the Federal Ministry of Justice.  The 
bottom line is that a friend of Haider's, Dr. Boehmdorfer, is the one to 
make decisions regarding another friend of Haider's, Andreas Moelzer.  Due 
to his right to give directives to the offices of the state attorneys, the 
Minister of Justice may at his discretion end any investigions against 
members of the FPOe and initiate investigations against opponents of the FPOe.

Opinions expressed in this email are my own unless otherwise stated.
Phil Graham, Lecturer (Communication), Graduate School of Management
University of Queensland, Ph:  617 3381 1083; Fax:  617 3381 1083;
Mobile 0401 737 315; homepage:

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