The Republic of Austria is continuing to hold prisoner the author and journalist Stephan Templ 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 in Vienna, 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 Templ’s aunt as far back as 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.”
Amsterdam said 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,” Amsterdam said.