The Quality of the Austrian Judicial System and Police
article in "virtual vienna" dealing with searching peoples belongings in supermarkets.
i am a new member of this website (virtual vienna) and want to contribute with a lengthy article in 3 parts to this theme. i will try and download the articles i wrote last november in a forum on the vienna expats site.
i have recently been ordered to go to prison for 18 months all because of the same thing (standing up for my rights and dignitas) and similar trivialities! my newest sentence is not directly related with the experience in the supermarket years ago but is a long-term result. i have been given one month to enter prison. time is almost up. i never received either a summons from the court for the appeal trial (dealing with a noise disturbance) nor did my court appointed lawyer ever re-contact me in the last seven months that i have been waiting for a re-trial. my witness has also never received anything. the whole thing has utterly surprised and shocked me! this last letter was not an appeal sentence and it was the same judge ( who also lives where my ex-partner lives) as in the first trial – which is all very odd.
i suffer from an f60.30 mental health problem (depression, fear, concentration and employment problems) which people do not realise or see until i tell them since the doctors and everyone consider me to be some kind of superman considering the things which i have achieved and push myself to do with great effort. the medical tests also show that i have a very high iq which perhaps explains some of it. however the austrian judges are now pushing me again very seriously towards suicide which i tried to commit about 8 years ago because of my ex-partner/common-law wife. the business with her (making dangerous threats after the breakup of a seven year life together) is also a reason for the length of the sentence. i have never as an adult stolen anything, i have never attacked anyone, never mugged anyone, do not take or deal in drugs, have never burned peoples houses down, never killed or attempted to kill anyone, never raped anyone etc. etc. i just mind my own business and try and survive and be as good a father and friend and worker as possible! i just don´t understand what they want from me and why they are terrorising and persecuting me so much! don´t they have better things to do with tax-payers money?
if i die very soon (i will not be taken alive and go through that hell again including beatings during a three week solitary confinement in a tiny dark bunker under the landesgericht many years ago) then i want people to know what they have done to me. i am a scientist (geologist and astronomer amongst other things) and just want to do beautiful science and not think of dying! but i am prepared. if they hammer on my door again and break in again with guns drawn, then they had better make sure that there is an ambulance with them! i am doing everything possible to avoid this but time is almost up and it is very doubtful if the courts here will listen or care. one thing is for sure, if their stupid cohors urbani come and try to break through my door once again, there will be blood everywhere!
here is part one:
the dark side of the force - austrian justice
forum article in vienna expats, november 2007
i am a british citizen, have lived in vienna for 26 years, my ex-wife is austrian and i have an adult daughter who was born here and has both austrian and british citizenship. i only wanted to have a good job / career (i am a graduate) and raise a family and live in harmony with everyone. unfortunately things sometimes took another more nasty turn than i planned for.
i wonder if there are any other ex-pats out there, i mean normal, average people and not the naive greenhorns who have only just arrived or been here only a year or two, nor the rich protected diplomats and types who work, for example in the uno-city, but those of us who have to struggle to make a buck who have also had the displeasure of experiencing the bad side of the viennese mentality (informing police and pressing charges for stupid reasons) and the wonderfully "fair" and impartial austrian "justice" (ha!, ha!) system and police?
i for example have just been given a 10 month prison sentence for playing my music after 10 p.m. (i have a tiny portable cd player) and reputedly "resisting arrest" and causing "grievous bodily harm" to an ox of a cop who was much bigger than me and had a tiny accidentally self-inflicted scratch on the knuckle of one of his fingers! he had no cause for arresting me since i was cooperating and being polite and it was the way in which he violently wrenched my arm behind my back and threw me against the neighbour´s window bars that caused me such agony in my arm and shoulder, that i simply had no choice but to try and return my arm to its natural position. i had a nasty bruise on my shoulder the next day (which the judge never accepted) which i saw only after removing my tunica and had pains in my arm for months afterwards. i was never examined by a doctor in the police station nor was my blood alcohol level measured.
my court appointed lawyer (i have launched an appeal) doesn´t even want to meet with me to discuss the matter! nor was i allowed to speak english in court. none of my friends, colleagues or relatives were ever asked or allowed to speak out on my behalf. not even a witness who went to court with me was asked questions by the "judge"!!!
i know many similar stories and experiences from several other people and from a few ex-pats and foreigners living here. so i know i am not the only one but i would like to gather more experiences and hear more opinions on this matter.
the dark-side of the force - austrian justice
part two, vienna expats, november 2007
it is reassuring that at least a couple of people have replied and seem to either have had similar experiences or know someone who has. it is very annoying for me only ever to see articles in english everywhere, such as english-language newspapers dealing with vienna and austria, or anywhere else for that matter, which gives only a one-sided impression, namely that the world is in order and that nothing bad could ever happen to "good, decent, law-abiding citizens" who mind their own business and never complain or stick-up for their rights. that vienna is such a wonderful place where the people are so fine and life is just one big party.
i understand that there are principally two types of replies depending on character and life experience. those who agreed with me or showed solidarity are probably those longer in vienna and are the kind of person who don´t just passively accept everything as it is because they want to live in a democracy with rights and freedoms and are not prepared to see them trod upon and removed. in other words fighters (i only like true warriors). then there is the other category: either they are lucky and have not yet experienced injustice or naively believe the system is perfect and the police and courts are wonderful and if they stick to other peoples rules, made without asking their opinion, everything will be just fine. dig a hole, craw-up and don´t be noticed.
the reply from one gentleman:
“i have had some experience with the judicial system here, and had to call the police for assistance when neighbours have music on too loud well into the early hours. whilst my experience was for something vastly different from yours, the dealings with the police have been straightforward.
in your account, you give 2 situations (unless i miss-read) - one in the super market and one in the house. when police are called, they have a set pattern of events that they follow. if there is resistance to this - i.e., they ask you to turn the music down and you don't, or argue, or whatever, then they have another course to follow. once they start an arrest procedure, it has to continue until its end. from what you write, it's not clear how it got from "turn the music down" to 10 months in prison. if there was a fight with the police involved, then that is something that will certainly count against you. you should have access to a lawyer - both court appointed and self appointed are allowed. your lawyer should be able to tell you if you have grounds for appeal. when i had an issue, i found a lawyer immediately (english speaking via the british embassy) and related my side of the story to her as fast as i could in order that i also had statements lodged. she was also able to brief me on the process of law here. my story had a somewhat more happier ending than yours.
as for in the supermarket - personally i thought it was normal for them to ask to look in any bag. i do it automatically as i don't want them to think i have anything there. again, the steps from "can i look into your bag" to the arrival of the police are not clear.
i can only relate my personal experience to you, and i'm not going into details on here for sure!! however, overall i found the police fare - aggressive in interview style, yes - but not violent. co-operating with them 100% is not only advisable, but mandatory. it's their system. they are not out to get you, or persecute foreingers, or ship you out to an island. if that was the case, then we would all be in a mess.
i wish you all the best”
the notices in supermarkets are not binding. you do not have to let anyone working in a supermarket see into your bag which belongs to you and is part of your private sphere. this is the law. for this reason all the supermarkets in britain have uniformed guards and cameras everywhere and so they never ask anyone to show the contents of their bags (absolutely everyone who carries a bag) to empty their pockets, be frisked down, or strip-searched - all of which would be the logical consequence if they really wanted to make sure no one smuggles out goods. if they do ask you it is because you were observed putting something in your bag. besides it is a fact that the much of the theft from supermarkets is due to the employees. my german friend found information on the internet regarding the law here and gave me a copy. one of my best friends whom i have known for ten years is an austrian solicitor and he and his wife (also a solicitor) find it incredible and unfair how i have been treated. they are also not big fans of their police as are many other austrians i know.
to reply to the nice gentleman who quoted to me how the police (i too could have been a policeman since the pay is decent in scotland and the chief constable was very keen to have me on the force back in 1991) have to act: first of all i have a small (about the size of a large shoe-box) radio / cd player, i turned the music down as i heard someone hammering loud on my door (making more sound than the cd player) and so they didn´t even need to ask me to turn it down. if i am in my own home then i have every right to be angry about someone hammering loud on my door. there is no law against being angry. policemen are not gods, just men doing a certain job. in europe things have become much standardised. police officers are trained in psychology and are supposed to take command of a situation, be polite and respectful and use psychology to calm people down and reassure them. they should also do their “homework” before going to someone´s door to have an idea about who they are dealing with. in my case they have had ample information to know that i have a mental health problem and they should have known it was a volkshilfe “betreute –wohnung”. if they don´t, then they´re not my police! not just the person making a complaint needs protecting. i was being polite, cooperative and tried to discuss the situation and find out what they wanted but which was very difficult under the influence of alcohol. it is not in my nature to be impolite or abusive with a stranger who doesn´t want to harm me. the policeman expected me to go to the door with an identity card as if it were hanging around my neck all the time. because i asked them to wait outside so that i could then go and get my passport (a man´s home is his castle) the big ox who wrenched my arm behind my back after dragging me outside (i still have pains in my arm and cannot use it properly) had no right or need to arrest me! he also lied in court about the sound level (i did a course in audio engineering and experimented long before just to experience how audible my sound-system is outside my flat at full volume because of the same woman who came to complain in spring time) and about the exact order of events. if he had only been fair, impartial and above all - polite, there would have been no big deal.
the fact is i suspect they came with some impression in their head which was possibly given to them by the woman who complained many months before about me playing music (mostly pleasant celtic music) and singing. this was in spring, during the day and with the windows open. she told me she had problems with the last occupant and was very arrogant and impolite. her final statement as she left was "ach ihr leute die in soziale wohnungen leben! she obviously throws everyone into the same pot and has something against poor, homeless people who live in subsidised vokshilfe and salvation army flats for maximum one year. my obvious foreign accent also no doubt was all she needed to feel justified.
no, i maintain the cohors urbani (policeman) had no reason or right to arrest me and did not do his job correctly. nor do they have to continue until it´s end. they are supposed to have a brain and be able to make certain intelligent decisions themselves. i think we all know of instances where cohors urbani have let people off.
perhaps the fellow who sent me a wonderful animated american website about how rodney king wouldn´t have been nearly beaten to death amongst other wonderful examples, had he been a passive, slave-like, worshiper of the law (white-mans law) and police and just ignored all his problems and lived peacefully and in a "correct" law abiding way, no doubt believes it is correct that earlier this year in vienna some police or prison guards abducted an african gentleman, dragged him to a disused warehouse and beat the shit out of him simply because they had a bad day!?! they are still working as cohors urbani today!! according to their system, they would get a jail sentence and in a decent system would have been fired without any chance of being employed in such a job again! oh, perhaps my talented friend would also think it is o.k. when a nigerian medical doctor has his arms and legs broken by a bunch of cohors urbani as happened in vienna some years ago, or ...... etc. etc.....they all went looking for trouble didn´t they and deserved what they got?!! naa! they ain´t anti-foreigner or racist are they?! ever heard of marcus omafuma? just look-up the amnesty international site for austria if you don´t believe me.
as far as a "fight" with the police is concerned - it just didn´t happen. i merely instinctively and naturally removed my arm from a very painful position and his hand (still attached to mine) must have struck the door handle or something. you would need a magnifying glass to see any wound. for this reason they often go into paid "krankenstand" (sick leave) for a few weeks. if i had regarded the two men to be a threat to me, then the sick - leave would be justified! they were uniformed cohors urbani and therefore i had optimally and ideally, no need to feel threatened.
although i personally know some cohors urbani and know that many are normal decent people but i also know that some are loathsome characters and neo-nazis. my ex-common law wife was married to one and she told me of the times she visited some of her ex-husbands colleagues privately. she found them obnoxious. the point i´m making is that it is unacceptable that such morons wear the states uniform, carry guns and pepper sprays and are let loose on the public. if that´s the case, then i reserve my ancient right to bear arms and defend myself!
the courts always give them the right here - they are their darlings.
if you want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth to come out in a court of law here - you can forget it. you´re not even allowed to speak you piece here. they cut you off as soon as you open your mouth. word of mouth is all it needs for you to be put in prison and mountains are inevitably made out of mole-hills instead of being ignored. it´s as if they get paid a big bonus for every case they try and for every arrest they make. then they cry about the prisons being full and having no money. it doesn´t make sense.
one person replied that they were not sure what i expected from my article. well it´s quite simple: i want to gather information. i want the world to know what happened just in case anything happens to me and to have confirmation that i am not the only one and that something is definitely wrong with the judicial system and the quality of the police in vienna. i also want to warn newcomers that they shouldn´t think that the rights and freedoms which they take for granted in the english speaking countries are transferable to austria. just to say something like "civis romanus sum" ( i am a roman citizen) or as one sometimes hears in films "i´m an american" has any effect upon the attitudes and behaviour of austrian / viennese police and judges. in fact they positively dislike anyone who feels that all citizens regardless of their job and title are equal. they all want to be treated as gods. it definitely seems to me that if you are a foreigner you are worse-off than others and that the judges just want everything over and done with as quickly as possible. they´re just not really interested in real justice. for example, after paying for my goods at the check-out of the big interspar supermarket by the wohnpark alt-erlaa, the girl at the check-out dictated to me in a very arrogant tone what i had to do with my own property - my rucksack (they really have it in for shoppers with rucksacks) and because i stood-up for my rights and dignity (do you like being treated as a potential shoplifter?) and refused to let her look into my bag she then called a "store-detective" who was dressed in jeans, dock-martens and a bomber jacket and had a colourful punker hairstyle! he didn’t produce any kind of internationally recognisable identity and tried to stop me from going home. just as i was about to step through the door, he punched me in the face and threw me to the ground. i never struck him once but merely blocked his further punches. this is regarded in austrian law as "nötigung" and "schwere körperverletzung" (duress, coercion / restraint and assault with grievous bodily harm) which he simply is not allowed to do. the two policemen who arrived some ten minutes later were totally biased and aggressive towards me. in the court it was me who was charged with assault and causing grievous bodily harm! the police kept referring to the "store-detective" as their colleague! i managed to get a copy of the file before the trial and lo and behold, the "colleague" had a criminal record for assault!!! guess who was found guilty? yeah of course - yours truly, the big, bad "ausländer"! again i never had a lawyer and was criticised for wanting to speak english. in fact that´s another thing - sometimes the judges here just love to do their roland friesler (the nazi- volksgericht "judge" ) thing and shout at the accused person and be very sarcastic. who the hell ever appoints these guys? they certainly don´t have to take courses in human psychology to get the job. nor are they wise king solomon types with loads of life experience. their decisions are not based solely on hard forensic evidence which it should be but can merely base it upon their opinions and feelings! well it certainly aint the kind of fair and impartial system which i was brought up to believe existed. here you are a piece of paper not a real human being. being human is verboten! character witnesses to get a real clear picture of the person they are dealing with is inadmissible!!! they also don´t consider all the damage they are doing to a persons friends, family, colleagues, customers and employers with their callous decisions. what they do to you affects many others as well.
maybe the reader who advised me to leave for italy is right but at the same time i am trying to set-up a life and business here and don´t want to move away from my daughter and friends. it is a good country to live in and would be a hell of a lot better if they would just open-up and make some adjustments to their mentality. besides i´m sure the same kind of injustice exists elsewhere to some extent. perhaps they should ship off all austrians into outer space with a rocket and re-populate the country with scotsmen or other anglo-saxons. besides it really is celtic territory or at least roman. no one invited these germanic barbarians to come here! no i´m not racist or nationalistic - i do have german friends, i also nearly married a german girl, my ex-wife is austrian as well as my daughter who was born in vienna and lives with her mother, many generous and kind austrians have helped me tremendously (even with money without even asking for any) - it just annoys me if people don´t get things into perspective.
the thing that people ought to keep in mind is what was said during the nazi period: one time they came to get the jews, but that doesn´t bother me; i´m not jewish, then they came to get the socialists and communists, but that doesn´t bother me i´m not a socialist, but then one day they came to take me away... etc. etc. or words to the same effect. if people don´t care and take notice, nothing will ever improve.
anyway i am still interested in detailed accounts of other people’s experiences with the police and courts here.
part three perhaps tomorrow.
saw a couple of replies and would like to respond. especially to the (indian?) gentleman who wrongly said that they are allowed to search your belongings. i have a copy of an internet article from an austrian consumer protection lawyer which my german friend gave me. here is my short translated version: even if it is written somewhere that you should open your bags and show the cash-desk operator the contents, this is not binding. nor is it binding that you do so when asked. lawyers have academically debated whether or not it is legitimate for supermarkets to ask customers to deposit their bags either at the information or in lockers. some lawyers are of the opinion that this is permissible under the common or general rules or conditions for doing business with them (allgemeine geschäftsbedingungen) i.e. as a consumer you agree to do so (given sufficient possibility) when entering the shop. are they allowed to hold you at the cash-desk if they have sufficient grounds to suspect you of theft? the legal rules are written in paragraph 86, section 2 of the criminal prosecution procedures (strafprozeßordnung). according to this, anyone is allowed to hold or arrest someone who has just committed an offense punishable by law or is in process of doing so. i did this once when i woke up in my flat to find a strange man standing beside my bed. he ran away and i followed him several streets further and eventually managed to hold him until the police arrived and searched his car. important for shoppers, is that the supermarket personnel has sufficient reasons to suspect the person of having stolen something. if a person has been observed hiding something and then not producing it at the checkout, then it is permissible to hold them. this is not allowed if you simply refuse to let your bags be searched. even if they are in a position to hold you, they are not allowed to search you or your belongings. only the police are allowed to do so. if they do, they are liable for punishment for duress and unlawful use of force. so either tell them to call the police or call the police yourself. usually they will then back-down.
in my case many years before, i didn´t know all this, perhaps i made a bad impression upon the woman at the cash-desk, but certainly had not stolen anything. i am against theft and violence as indeed i am against the unnecessary and inappropriate use of force. as kids we all stole little things but as an adult that´s different. as kids we all got into scraps / fights and i certainly got fairly knocked about especially by adults. it does not excuse the way in which the punker "store detective" acted. i did not push him or strike him! i walked and did not run to the exit after paying.
now to sylvia´s question about the embassy. yes i did contact the embassy. this time they were very helpful, at least sympathetic, since i was again having a nervous breakdown. it all depends upon who you´re dealing with. the man i spoke to already knew me because of the problems with my ex-partner a few years ago which dragged on for over two years in the courts including being imprisoned twice for a few weeks at a time simply because the courts and the judge made mistakes! they contacted my court appointed lawyer who didn´t do her job right to get her version and my therapist who then organised a letter for the court setting out my diagnosis and treatment and the danger of suicide. a few years ago there was another pro-consul there who was useless and a coward in my opinion. she only kept telling me what they couldn´t do and gave me lists of austrian lawyers who speak english. this explains what i wrote in part three about my scepticism about embassies and their “help”. back in the 80´s and 90´s there was another woman though who was made of different mettle and won my respect as a fellow warrior by doing things the last useless woman told me “she wasn´t allowed to do”. i think she was confused about who gives them their directions – we the people and not bureaucrats in london! i have also since then given the embassy a copy of my letters of complaint to the rechtsanwaltskammer (the chamber for lawyers) which asked for a new lawyer and stating how my echr rights to a fair trial and being able to speak english have been breached.
part three. november 2007
as far as the british embassy is concerned, they don’t do a damned thing. they keep saying it’s not their business. they can’t get involved, not even to protect a british citizen. they won the war, they occupied austria for 10 years, they go and drop bombs on serbia, afghanistan and iraq killing thousands of people but they can’t tell the austrian authorities to treat all citizens fairly and in line with european norms and standards! i deliberately say the austrian authorities and not the austrians since i love austria and the people (my daughter is austrian) and know what many of them think. i would easily fight to defend this country if it were attacked by an aggressive power. then they would be glad of someone with my military knowledge (i come from a long line of warriors) and even if i do say so, guts and genius ( i’ve studied military history, tactics and strategy for years and could defeat any enemy given the right means to do so). i’d love to see how some of their politicians, judges and police would fight! why don’t they play rugby in austria? not firing a shot at the nazi armies as they invaded and raped austria, ordering their army to hide 20 or 30 kilometres behind their own border as the russians and warsaw pact threatened their country during the “prager frühling”. the austrians also acted totally moronically at the battle of austerlitz. you don’t win battles or make the enemy think again that way!
as one person said “they take their authority seriously here” also makes me angry. who the f*** is the "authority"? they are you and i! "they" are supposed to be the servants of the people and appointed by the people and do what the people say!!! all those who know me and whom i have talked to about it are a representative section of the people and yet they are not allowed to criticise the judge and give any character witness. that’s what i call dictatorship. when will people get away from this old notion that someone in a certain job is somehow better than others or should be more respected – that’s how it was in the time of the roman imperial system and in the middle ages before there was any thing like the modern “democracy”. “democracy” is a greek word (demos and kratos) meaning the rule of the people. not in my opinion the rule by a group of people elected by the people but by the people directly.
switzerland has a system closer to real democracy than other countries with their regular referenda. this is a system i feel is acceptable. with today’s electronic means, this could be realisable. the people have of course to have full access to all information – which is their right!
my story is somewhat longer and more complicated than i have revealed here, but believe me the incidents have always been due to ignorance, complacency, prejudice, unfairness, disregard for peoples democratic rights, and downright stupidity, perhaps my own at times but mostly of those making complaints and pressing charges – but of course the authorities never investigate those complaining, they are automatically the good guys. for them it’s just that simple.
i wanted to continue living here. i have fought hard for the last three years, returning to austria after a year in scotland doing every dirty low-paid and dangerous job just to get back to my daughter and partner (who had the “best holiday in her life” in scotland in august 2003!) starting out with a rucksack and travel-bag, thin, physically weak, mentally exhausted, having no money, having to go to monasteries, bahnhof-dienst the gruft for something to eat, sleeping outdoors or in the homeless quarters. i have done all the right things to get money and a roof over my head. i have been in “betreutes- wohnen” for 3 years and have only just managed to get a small council flat. britain is a foreign country now for me. there are so many things i am used to and prefer here in austria. my child is austrian and i have only just been able to start seeing her again quite regularly after 3 years. i i am trying to build up a business and live again, or better said finally, and now the judge wants to put me in jail for 10 months. this will kill me. quite literally.
so my dear well meaning but naïve friend who advised me to leave the country (which i could never return to legally) i am indeed left with a dilemma. it’s no wonder i’m thinking of choosing an honourable solution – in good old roman fashion: because no one cares and will only do something if their own life is threatened. doesn’t some rich pampered president of some nation which happens to have the biggest arsenal in the world who actually lost the election, believe that we are the product of some amazing “intelligent design”? if that’s so i don’t see any difference between us and the other products of this fantastic inventor!
i may head down to my beloved carnuntum where i am convinced i may once have lived and served in the roman army and end it all there. i guess this is my way of letting it be known what these bastards have done to me. don’t we live in such a great world where everyone cares about each other!?! the ones that do, end up imprisoned for nothing and those who don’t because they only sadistically murdered and tortured hundreds of people, can live in freedom in syria ( the austrian allois brunner) or brazil ( josef mengele) and in other countries because the wonderful u.s.a. and britain really desperately needed their services to combat the big bad communist threat. that’s what happens when a system only allows a few to govern and ignores and doesn’t care about the majority opinion.
maybe the lady who only wants to live in peace and raise her children and not go on crusades should think about that if they ever some day come and get her for riding her bicycle in vindobona and getting arrested by a moronic cop (her children were with her- and arrest means they put handcuffs on you and drag you off at high speed with their little toy sirens blaring and lights flashing to a nice little “comfortable” concrete bunker) for crossing the road and then leaving her little children standing there all alone which happened in vindobona (vienna) about two years ago!
the politicians, courts, judges and police here: i hate them! there are no words to express how much i hate and detest them! they are the scum of the world! if only i had my legions and praetorian guard again! what i would do with these barbarian bastards!!! they have hurt me soooo much!!! the bastards stole my wedding suit, my green “wander-anzug” and worst of all –my family photos. my life has been worse than friday the 13th, nightmare on elmstreet, alien, alien verses preditor etc. etc. i would much rather fight on the d-day beaches, the battle of the bulge in the ardennes with easy company than put up with this shit!!! some people think the austrians are so refined and civilised, but i tell ya! as far as their justice system goes, they are primitive barbarians! if i have to be a martyr for changes to be made, then so be it! i don´t feel that my life has anything to offer any more. its a living hell anyway. i would love to continue seeing the sun and blue sky, and everything else. but we all have to go sometime anyway.
people with mental health problems must be treated differently - not just those with schizophrenia and other such diseases.
finally, does anyone know of a web address of another, preferably international, forum or the address of a newspaper which doesn’t tell people they have a list of free-lancers and don’t want to publish articles written by anyone else?
thank you all and good night and good luck,
averyius05 Mag 2008, 07:52 TRIBUN AVERYIUS