Two police officers will answer at the Regional Court for Criminal Matters in Vienna next week after violent activities in the context of the dissolution of a climate demonstration.
A civil servant is charged with bodily harm and a criminal offense taking advantage of an official position. He is said to have given a demonstrator who was fixed in the prone position several violent blows to the upper body. The second is charged with abuse of authority and false evidence.
Climate demo took place in Vienna in May 2019
On May 31, 2019, when a sit-in was resolved as part of a climate demonstration in downtown Vienna at the Urania, there was disproportionate police violence. Judges of the Provincial Administrative Court in Vienna have already ruled several times that the executive acted unlawfully during this operation – also in the case of the officials now being accused. The activist had been punched nine times in the kidney area while several officers were being restrained on the ground. The man suffered bruises and a slight bruise to his right kidney. A video of the official act had been published on the Internet.
Around 100 manifestants had set up a sit-in on the sidelines of a registered climate demo at the intersection in front of the Urania. The rally was broken up. The manifestant remained seated next to other demonstrators until he was taken away by the police. Eventually he was carried away by several officers. They took him to the so-called secured zone and pinned him to the ground. There the activist tried to tear himself away. The police pronounced the arrest and tried to put handcuffs on the man. He had drawn his arms together under his upper body. The first defendant, a 33-year-old officer from the standby unit, struck the demonstrator nine times on the right side of the body in quick succession, after which the activist could be handcuffed.
Indictment of Police Policies
As the indictment shows, the guidelines for police operational training do not provide for punches to the lower torso against a person lying on the ground, especially not to induce them to release their arms. However, the first defendant, who took part in operational training several times a year, did not master the arrest technique actually intended for this case.
On the same day, his 37-year-old colleague wrote an official memo that was contrary to the facts. In it he alleged that the activist tried to kick the officers several times. At the hearing at the regional administrative court in December 2019, he also wanted to testify wrongly on the matter. He must therefore answer for abuse of authority and false evidence.
Police officers do not confess in questioning
Neither officer had confessed in the previous interrogations. The 33-year-old is now a district inspector and his 37-year-old colleague has become a control inspector. The trial will take place on Friday, August 27th. In the event of convictions, the officers are threatened with loss of office if the sentence imposed exceeds one year.