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News Brief

July 3, 2006
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The European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of an Austrian legislator whom police prohibited from demonstrating against a group of former SS men. The court said last Friday that the Green Party legislator’s right to assembly was violated in 1998 when police in Salzburg banned his counterdemonstration against former SS men commemorating their dead at a local cemetery. Police were concerned about a potential violent confrontation that would disturb visitors to the cemetery on All Saints’ Day, when many Europeans visit ancestors’ graves. Karl Oellinger, the legislator, had wanted to hold a commemoration for Salzburg Jews killed by the SS at the same time as the SS commemoration. The opinion, released today, stated: “The court was not convinced by the Austrian government’s argument that allowing both meetings while taking preventive measures, such as ensuring a police presence in order to keep the two assemblies apart, was not a viable alternative which would have preserved the applicant’s right to freedom of assembly while at the same time offering a sufficient degree of protection as regards the rights of the cemetery’s visitors.”

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