Trial of Islamists in Vienna Plagued by Technical Glitches
June 18, 2012
The Viennese Islamists trial is having technical glitches. On Monday, besides a video conference that crashed, there were also problems playing DVDs with recorded witnesses’ statements.
When the local justice system makes use of technical aids, there are frequently glitches: DVDs with contradictory interrogations turn out to be impossible to play back in the courtroom because the DVD is damaged, or the quality of the recording is so debased that they are barely usable.
Video conference with St. Pölten not possible
First, a video conference with the prison at St. Pölten was planned. A man there was to be questioned as a witness, who, according to the state’s attorney’s office, had intended to travel to Somalia with the main defendant, Thomas Al J., to participate there in the armed jihad.
After the witness — who is imprisoned on separate charges unconnected with the terror trial — had identified the main defendant, the connection to St. Pölten crashed. “The camera hung up,” explained the technician assigned to the regional Viennese criminal court for the trial.
Only personal interrogation went off without difficulties during the trial
Meanwhile, Judge Daniela Zwangsleitner questioned two witnesses, and there were no difficulties, since they were both personally present. Next, a YouTube video burned onto a DVD was supposed to be played on a large screen mounted in the courtroom. But that went awry. “That’s a minus-C and this doesn’t take that. You gotta know that,” said the technician, who did at least know that. After some back and forth, the video was played on the desktop PC of the secretary. The court, defense counsel and state’s attorney all gathered around the secretary and stared at the 40cm [15.6 inch] screen. In the meantime, the technical specialist from the justice ministry had succeeded and the connection to St. Pölten was re-established. Two and one-half hours late, the video conference could take place over a mobile facility which was pushed back into the courtroom.
Witness tells of trips to Somalia, Pakistan and Sofia
The witness in the Lower Austrian metropolis wished the panel (chair: Daniela Zwangsleitner) to believe that he had wanted to go to Somalia “to build up a humanitarian aid network.” After he had gotten his plane ticket, however, he backed out. “I was afraid, because the route over Ethiopia seemed too dangerous to me.” At another point in time, it was supposed to be a trip to Pakistan — but with no thoughts of terrorism, the witness asserted: “I wanted to live in an Islamic land, to help my brothers and sisters.”
The trip to Sofia ended prematurely “because I lost my nerve.” Besides, he had lost his passport on his stopover in Bulgaria, he said sheepishly. A Catholic priest had taken the Muslim under his wing, procured an emergency pass for him and organized his return trip to Vienna. The trial of the four Islamists charged with having supported the goals of an Al-Qaeda connected terror network will continue this coming Friday.