VIENNA (Apr. 4)
Nine neo-Nazis — one West German and eight Austrians — were found guilty by a Vienna court this week of anti-Semitic acts, including the bombings of Jewish homes and Jewish-owned businesses, and spreading propaganda that the Holocaust was a hoax.
All received prison sentences ranging from three months to five years, but the sentences of five of the accused were suspended. The trial, which ended Monday night, had lasted six months and was the largest proceeding against neo-Nazis in Austria since the end of World War II.
Although the sentences were lenient, inasmuch as Austrian law provides prison terms of 5-10 years for bombings, and in some circumstance, life imprisonment, the fact that all of the accused were convicted established a precedent for future cases. At a similar trial in 1962, six of eight defendants were acquitted.
The charges included the bombing of the homes of Simon Wiesenthal, head of the Vienna-based Nazi war crimes documentation center, and Alexander Giese, a prominent Jewish journalist. Two clothing stores, part of a Jewish-owned chain, were also bombed, one in Vienna and one in Salzburg. Abomb was placed in a park in the old Jewish quarter of Vienna. None of the bombings caused casualties. However, the park bomb, which failed to explode, could have had disastrous consequences.
CHARGES AGAINST THE DEFENDANTS
The main defendant, Ekkehart Weil, a West German, is well known to the German and Austrian authorities for his extreme rightwing activities. He was found guilty of bombing the two clothing stores, burglary of a dynamite storage site and illegal possession of firearms. He was sentenced to five year’s imprisonment.
Another defendant, Attila Bajsty, was found guilty of aiding Weil in the Salzburg store bombing and supplying him with black powder for the manufacture of bombs. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Monfred Luxbacher and Egan Baumgartner, also involved in the bombings, were sentenced to two-and-a-half years and 20 months’ imprisonment respectively.
The five other men, members of various interlocked extreme rightwing organizations and described as “well educated” were found guilty of neo-Nazi activities and drew sentences of 3-15 months. Their sentences were suspended.
Apart from the criminal charges, all of the accused were found guilty of using the greeting “heil Hitler,” distributing litercture titled “The Auschwitz Lie,”wearing Nazi uniforms and attempting to recruit young soccer fans to their rightist organizations. All of these acts are offenses under Austria’s laws forbidding Nazi activities. But the court decided they were not sufficiently grave to warrant the minimum five-year sentences.