After postings against Jews: One year of suspended prison term

Der Standard, June 2, 2015
German original:

Stefanie Ruep

30-year-old had a video of Hitler and images of an SS-division on his phone

Salzburg/Wels – After publishing two anti-Semitic postings on Facebook, a 30-year old man from Schwarzach im Pongau has been sentenced to one year of suspended prison term for “re-engagement in National Socialist activities” [a criminal offense in Austria]. The Austrian citizen with Bosnian roots was accused of posting an image of Adolf Hitler and adding: “I could have killed all Jews but I left a few alive in order to show you why I killed them”.

He had also published a photograph of burning Israeli and American flags with the caption “S.O.B.s,, Heil Hitler, 88”. On his cell phone, investigators found images of the first Bosnian voluntary SS division and a video showing one of his friends impersonating Adolf Hitler.

“No political education in special needs school”

“He wanted to show the genocide of the Jews and present the National Socialist regime in a positive light”, said prosecutor Marcus Neher while addressing the jury in his opening speech. Attorney Arnold Gangl disagreed and tried to justify the postings with a lack of political education: “I dare to claim that in a special needs school one does not receive any political education and does not learn what happened during the NS-regime”.

“What were you thinking?” head judge Günther Nocker asked the defendant. “Actually, I didn’t think anything at all. It was stupid”, he answered. “What do you have against Jews?” the judge went on. “Nothing, I don’t even know a single one,” the defendant emphasized. Everybody in his environment had been publishing postings like this, he explained, and added: “I wanted to belong”. He said he was disappointed by the war in Gaza and the killed civilians, which reminded him of the war in Bosnia that he had fled as a six-year-old and which left part of his family murdered.

The jury followed the indictment and sentenced the man to a one year suspended prison term. Also, the businessman will have to visit a concentration camp memorial. The verdict is final.

Similar Posting in Wels (Upper Austria)

In the past months, the prosecution office of Linz has also had to deal with an identical Facebook-posting that was published by a 29-year-old barber from the town of Wels. The man with Turkish roots had also justified his behavior with the bombing of the Gaza Strip. At first, the prosecution office did not consider the posting a re-engagement in National Socialist activities and closed the proceedings last December. Following vehement protest of anti-fascist organizations as well as green and social democratic politicians, the legal protection commissioner of Austria filed for resumption of the case. The investigation resumed in March.