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Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2006

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Y Net News (Israel)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


IrvingLaw without justice

Holocaust denier Irving's release taints Austria's legal system

LAST week it became apparent that despite Austria being a law abiding country it is not necessarily a just one. To be more exact, there are judges whose rulings do not honor their nations. Such a judge is Ernest Maurer, who decided to immediately release Holocaust denier David Irving, who was sentenced last February to a three-year prison term.

Maurer, the appeals court's presiding judge, left, never concealed his right-wing tendencies and is known to have close ties with Jörg Haider, the leader of Austria's Freedom Party.

Among other things, at Haider's recommendation, Maurer was the choice of the Freedom Party to serve on a board that oversees the Austrian public broadcasting network, ORF.

For years, the same Maurer gained "recognition" for rulings that opposed verdicts handed down in previous proceedings. In several cases, Maurer ruled in favor of Haider after he sued journalists and academics who accused him of trying to rationalize Nazism.

In Irving's case this is a double-edged scandal. On the one hand, the actual decision to reduce his punishment by two thirds and to release him from jail is outrageous. Judge Maurer brutally trampled on all the rules of justice, law and punishment.

However, the other side of the sword is far worse: How did it transpire that the heads of Vienna's courts and the Justice Ministry, with such a "controversial" record pertaining to lawsuits of far-right organizations, allow him to preside over Irving's appeal?

Although Maurer is the person who made this outrageous decision, those responsible for the rule of law in Austria are no less guilty, which of course will not bring prestige or honor to their country's legal system.

It appears therefore, that even if there is a liberal and enlightened trend in Austria today, it still comprises too many members from the old school, which is very different.

It is the school that in 1938 led almost 100 percent of Austrians to vote in favor of the unification with Germany, where their countryman Adolf Hitler ruled.

Maybe the Austrians will gain something positive from this embarrassing incident after all: The public outcry sounded following the affair may result in Maurer finally being "released" from the legal system.

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