Austria, February 10, 2016: The Republic of Austria is continuing to hold prisoner the author and Jewish rights activist Stephan Templ.
This it, Austria, is doing despite the presentation of crucial new evidence, his lawyers say.
Templ, who was convicted of “concealing” the existence of a family member in a restitution claim for Nazi-looted property inVienna, has been held in jail since October 2015.
However, the evidence used to secure that conviction has finally been revealed to his lawyers, who say that the Arbitration Panel in charge of restitution claims is proven to have known of Mr. Templ’s aunt by 2006.
“After years of denials and refusals, Mr. Templ’s legal team was finally granted access to view documents which conclusively prove that the Austrian authorities had knowledge of Mr. Templ’s aunt,” said Robert Amsterdam, an international lawyer with Amsterdam & Partners LLP, which represents Mr. Templ. “It is completely implausible for Austria to claim that Templ concealed the existence of the aunt when the name is mentioned at least six times in documents he himself submitted to the panel.”
Eva Blimlinger, who directed the Austrian Historical Commission’s search for confiscated property called Templ’s case “crazy.”
“It’s the duty of the Arbitration Panel of the General Settlement Fund to prove these things,” she said, “not of the people who make the application for restitution.”
“Nobody can understand it, but when you isolate the case, it’s clear that the whole thing is stupid. Nowhere is it written that it is obligatory to list other heirs. So that’s the part that is the duty of the General Settlement Fund to look up and see if there are other heirs. It’s not the duty of Stephan Templ or his mother.”
Amsterdam says that the Republic of Austria should immediately release Stephan Templ and initiate an investigation. “It’s time to end this reprehensible farce. We have a situation here where Austria acknowledges these thefts by the Nazi regime, but then jails the victim of the theft, despite the absence of any damaged party. It is difficult not to see shades of retrograde official anti-Semitism in this case.”