My recent experience with the Austrian justice system has underscored that there is a very real danger joining the the EU’s European Investigation Order will open the door to serious human rights violations not just to UK citizens but to all people in Europe.
The EU’s European Investigation Order “would mean handing over wide-ranging powers to foreign police forces, risking miscarriages of justice and placing British police at their beck and call,” writes Harry Phibbs in the Daily Mail.
The Tory MP Dominic Raab is quoted as saying:‘There are no proper limits on the nature of the crimes involved – so they could be trivial, or not even offences under UK law. [ ]… the Order even provides legal authority for European police to carry out investigations on British soil.’
My experience with the judicial system in Austria suggest these concerns are warranted. I am facing indefinte detention without charge or criminal trial in Austria after a judge at a local Vienna court signed a note on June 29th applying for me to be put under court custody on the basis of false and trivial allegations.
A court custody process (Sachwalterschaftsverfahren) is designed for very different cases — elderly people who can no longer look after their affairs because of senility– and is supposed to be used as a last resort under Austrian law.
Not even L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettancourt at 87 has been put under court custody in France in spite of her daughter’s efforts.
So how come I, a graduate of Edinburgh University who has written for Nature, The Scientist and the BMJ, who was among the first to warn that the swine flu pandemic was overhyped, am about to be placed under court custody and potentially indefinite detention on the grounds I am a „conspiracy theorist“ and a financial danger to myself?
Well, my real crime has been to criticise the government’s swine flu vaccination campaign.
In addition, I was able to collect evidence that the same judge at the Hietzing local court who has applied for me to be put under court custody is manipulating files and engaging in fraud.
I have been able to document the evidence of systematic corruption in appeals and criminal charges I have just filed in Vienna: I put copies of my legal actions in German up on a hack proof website.
But documenting the evidence of systematic file manipulation and judicial corruption was only possible because I gained access to files which I would normally not have had access to.
Access enabled me to learn the reasons given by Judge Michaela Lauer for putting me under a court guardianship, and therefore allowed me to quickly gather the documents to prove that the reasons given are spurious or trivial and part of a deliberate and orchestrated attempt to silence me.
Because I am facing detention under a court custody application and not under criminal charges, there is no obligation for the authorities to inform me of the „charges“ that could lead to me being stripped of all my civic rights.
I could have been left clueless about what I was being accused of and what documents and information I, therefore, had to assemble to prove I was innocent if I had not happened to have accessed the files, seen the note, read the application and made a photocopy.
As it is, I have had to spend the past three weeks filing appeals, criminal charges, and contacting the ombudsperson to alert them to this miscarriage of justice.
Speed is necessary because the order for me to appear before my local court was issued on July 3rd already and I am scheduled to appear on August 12th for a hearing that could determine whether I am stripped of my basic constitutional rights or not.
One problem is that there is a 14-day deadline in Austria to file an appeal – and if you do not get the court letter notifying you — or someone else signs for you and does not tell you, as happened in the case of my elderly aunt — you are de facto deprived of your right to appeal.
Filing criminal charges are another legal avenue to address this kind of miscarriage of justice, the Ministry of Justice informed me.
But I filed charges in May 2009 against the same judge because of irregularities concerning her appointment of a court custodian for my dad. However, the prosecutors never investigated and I was de facto barred from seeing the files.
Because this court custody application for me is a serious human rights violation, I will potentially be able to ask for compensation from the Austrian state I have been told by a ministry of justice official.
I will certainly claim for lost earnings due to the time I have had to spend on defending myself.
I was supposed to start working on a documentary about the Smolensk plance crash but have had to cancel that project as I have had my hands full trying to halt this court custody process.
Worse than any loss of earnings has been the experience of the aggression of the Austrian legal system in seeking to put me under indefinite detention because I have found evidence of wrongdoing.
This has been truly traumatic.
It has caused me anxiety and sleepless mights. I have found it difficult to concentrate – and at a time when I have been required to take legal action at top speed to defend myself.
Who will compensate me for so much emotional stress?
And if the Austrian government and judges are colluding to misue the legal system to silence me, where am I safe in this country or indeed in all Europe?
Misusing legal procedures and terrorism laws, Austrian judges can force not just me but almost any person in Europe to attend a special court outside the law or face trial on some trivial charge.
Under the EIO and European Arrest Warrant, the problem of a small group of biased and partial judges misusing the legal system to hunt down and destroy criticis is exported to the whole of Europe.
A judge who has been caught out in manipulating files, making false accusations in Austria can now summon anyone in Europe to answer some spurious charge or other that the victims may not even be adequately informed about.
A handful of corrupt judges in Vienna could potentially sign EIO and EAW orders and thousands could be picked up by the UK police or other police forces and sent to Vienna to face indefinite detention without charge or criminal trial or a criminal trial on spurious or utterly trivial grounds in procedures reminiscent of Kafka.
Austria is also on the verge of introducing a new and draconian anti terrorism law that is so loosely worded that virtually anyone who criticises governments can be classified as a terrorist.
A judge in Austria could, for example, claim that someone in the UK or another European country had handed out terrorist material or received such material and drag that person before an Austrian court using UK or other European police force under the EIO.
How could any such UK or other European victim of a miscarriage of justice defend themselves if they were brought to trial or to a special court in Austria and were unable to access the files, obtain any information or understand the legal procedure?
Of course this is an extreme scenario. But my experience makes it less unlikely than many might think.
The risk of miscarriage of justice is too great.
The UK government should rejuct signing up for the EIO and EAW order because of the door it opens to human rights violations. Parliament, at the very last, should be allowed to vote on this measure.
After all, how can a handful of ministers who have backtracked on election promises sign up for this order that could result in massive human rights violations and still expect to have genuine legitimacy in the eyes of the people of the UK?
By signing up for the EIO order, ministers could even eventually be exposing themselves to the same charge of destroying law and justice and utilizing the emptied forms of legal process for persecution, enslavement, and extermination under law as the Nazi ministers, judges and prosecutors faced at the Nürnberg Trials.
It will take only a few UK citizens to experience the kind of miscarriages of justice and civil liberties violations by Austrian or other judges as I have had to for questions to be raised about who was ultimately responsible for undermining the process of law and legal institutions in the UK.
As Brigardier Telford Taylor said at the opening of the Nuremberg Justice Trail of 1947 said the judges, government officials and investigaors abused the process of law and legal institutions in Germany.
“In summary, the defendants are charged with the judicial murder and other atrocities which they committed by destroying law and justice in Germany, and by then utilizing the emptied forms of legal process for persecution, enslavement, and extermination under law.
The true purposes of this proceeding, therefore, are broader than the mere visiting of retribution on a few men for the death and suffering of many thousands. I have said that the defendants know, or should know, that a court is a house of law. But it is, I fear, many years since any of the defendants have dwelt therein. Great as was their crime against those who died or suffered at their hands, their crime against Germany was even more shameful. They defiled the German temple of justice, and delivered Germany into the dictatorship of the Third Reich, “with all its methods of terror, and its cynical and open denial of the rule of law.”