Acquittal for right-wing extremist Identitarian movement in Austrian court
31 July 2018
Seventeen members of the Austrian Identitarian Movement (IBÖ) were acquitted by the Graz District Court on all main charges in their case last Thursday. According to the court, the accused were not guilty of sedition, or the formation of or participation in a criminal association. Only two of the accused were convicted of minor charges. The ruling is yet to come into force.
The court’s decision speaks volumes about the sharp rightward shift in Austria and throughout Europe. Seven months after the coalition government made up of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) took office in Vienna, racists and neo-Nazis can present themselves to a court as “concerned citizens” and walk free despite employing methods akin to the Nazi SA.
The Identitarians are a right-wing extremist group that emerged 16 years ago in France and now maintains close connections to a network of far-right parties and militant neo-Nazi groups across Europe. They are notorious for their provocations, which often involve the intimidation of immigrants and political opponents with the use of physical violence. Two weeks ago, the Identitarians attacked a meeting of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality at the Technical University in Dresden.
In Graz, the defendants included 16 men and a woman, aged between 20 and 35. Among the accused was Martin Sellner, a leading figure within the Identitarians who has ties to leading German right-wing extremists like Björn Höcke, Andre Poggenburg and Götz Kubitschek, and also appeared at Pegida demonstrations in Dresden. The right-wing extremists were accused of spreading “radical xenophobic…