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Austrian will not face trial for reviving blood libel slander

ROME, July 14 (JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League has criticized prosecutors in Vienna for deciding not to prosecute an Austrian lecturer for reviving the blood-libel slander against Jews. The ADL’s central and east European office said Robert Prantner had violated hate-crime laws when he published an article last December in an Austrian right-wing journal claiming that Jews had killed Christians in the Middle Ages to use their blood for ritual purposes. The prosecutors said there was “not enough evidence” to bring charges against Prantner. The ADL, along with a group called the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance issued a joint statement saying they were “deeply concerned about the rejection of the charges.” “This ruling of immunity from criminal prosecution allows for the dissemination of the ritual murder legend and thus propagates anti-Semitism,” the statement added. Prantner was a lecturer at an Austrian Catholic theological seminary, but was removed from his post after publication of his article, according to an ADL official. In his article, Prantner claimed that a “holy martyred child” named Anderl von Rinn was indeed a victim of ritual murder in the 15th century. Rinn was the object of a local cult following as a martyr in the Tyrol region of Austria. The bishop of Innsbruck, Reinhold Stecher, outlawed the cult in 1994 and strongly condemned the blood-libel slander, saying there had never been a ritual murder martyrdom. Stecher also said that accusations of ritual murder have “caused innumerable Jews to lose their homes, possessions, freedom, health and life.” Despite the ban, Rinn’s memory was celebrated Sunday in Tyrol. The cult’s continued activities prompted Stecher’s successor as bishop, Alois Kothgasser, to publish a statement this month declaring that “the Catholic Church repudiates every form of denunciation, allegation and insinuation against the Jewish people.”