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Free Stephan Templ. Don't keep him jailed for seeking restitution from the Nazis.

This petition had 709 supporters

[UPDATED] New evidence has surfaced that further undermines the conviction of 55-year old Stephan Templ. Pressure is growing on the Austrian judiciary. Share this petition widely to increase the pressure and get Mr. Templ out of jail. With your help the government can no longer hide away. ---- Stephan Templ, a Jewish 53-year-old architectural historian, was jailed for seeking restitution from the Nazis on October 6th, 2015. Stephan, helped his mother, a Holocaust survivor, reclaim her share of a 19th-century hospital off Vienna’s Ringstrasse that was seized by the Nazis  in 1938. This petition was created because instead of hiding and burying the horrific facts of Austria's past we must confront these and seek truth and reconciliation, and not wreak vengeance upon those that seek to help right past wrongs. Since the discovery of this new evidence further proving Stephan's innocence, the government has done nothing and is committed to its strong record of illegally persecuting political dissidents, someone who dared stand up to the horrific crimes committed in the name of the Nazi's. Please sign this petition and end this miscarriage of justice. LATEST NEWS COVERAGE: 13-Feb-2016-The Guardian: Haaretz: Times of Israel: The Nation: This Man Was Jailed for Seeking Restitution of Property Stolen by the Nazis Eurasia Review: Austria Tells Jewish Political Prisoner He Must Be [a] ‘Registered’ [Jew] New York Times: The New York Times, “Historian Who Probed Austria’s Nazi Past Begins Sentence for Defrauding State”, 08 October 2015 The Guardian: Holocaust historians criticise Austria’s jailing of Jewish author BBC: Holocaust historians condemn Austria jailing of Jewish writer Haaretz: Jewish Historian Begins Jail Term, Blasts Austrian Authorities for 'anti-Semitic' Persecution Daily Mail: Author Stephan Templ handed 'obscene' jail term over claim for Nazi-stolen property. Full list of coverage provided at BRIEF FACTUAL SYNOPSIS OF STEPHAN TEMPL CASE Courtesy of: Ten years ago Stephan Templ learned that a building that he had long known to have once belonged to his family was being put up for restitution. Stephan had grown up being told the story of how this sanatorium had been expropriated by the recently arrived Nazis in March 1938 and how the owners, Stephan's great-granduncle and great-grandaunt had been forced to clean the steps of the building with a toothbrush, leading to their joint suicide. His mother, Dr Helene Templ, a survivor of the Holocaust herself, asked Stephan to apply for restitution on her behalf and made a Power of Attorney in his favour. In 2005, this is what Stephan did and four years later the property was returned to 39 successful applicants who had come forward, proved their lineage, and were deemed beneficiaries. The Federal Ministry in charge of restitution determined the share that each beneficiary was to receive. Stephan's mother received one twelfth of the property, which when sold, amounted to€1,100,000. On January 3 2013, Stephan was indicted by the Prosecutors Office of Vienna on charges of serious fraud against the Republic of Austria. In flagrant contravention of the applicable restitution laws, the prosecutors had come to a conclusion that as Stephan's mother had a sister, she should only have received a twenty-fourth share in the property. They argued that as the sister had not come forward to apply for restitution that the one twenty-fourth share should have remained with the Republic of Austria, and accordingly that the state had been defrauded to the tune of€550,000. By this logic, the Republic of Austria claims it is entitled to property which had been stolen from its rightful owners by the National-Socialist regime in 1938. In order to find Stephan guilty of the crime they decided to charge him with, the State had to prove intent on his part. They argued that by not naming his aunt in the application for restitution - something there was no obligation to do and the results of which he could not have foreseen - Stephan had aimed to deceive the restitution panel. This argument runs contrary to both the restitution and criminal laws of Austria, as well universal legal principles. Stephan is the only person ever charged by Austria for this crime arising out of restitution proceedings. An author and journalist, Stephan had written articles and co-published a book, which criticised the Austrian Republic for their reticence to institute restitution for victims of the National-Socialist regime. In his book, published in 2001, he detailed the properties in Vienna that had been stolen, expropriated, or forcibly sold and undersold, and traced the owners of the property to the current day. The book caused a stir in Viennese circles, particularly amongst the elite of the legal and political world– many of whom are such property owners. In April 2013, the Regional Court of Vienna found Stephan guilty of damaging the Republic of Austria. The verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court and a ruling by the Higher Regional Court on 6 June 2014, reduced his sentence to one year in prison with two years probation. Please sign this petition and share widely.    

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