Times of Israel [see also NY Times for background] An Austrian official’s letter is threatening to undermine the central pillar of a controversial court decision that found a Jewish journalist guilty of defrauding the government
On Sept. 9, senior state attorney Martin Windisch wrote that the government “makes no claims” against Stephan Templ, who was sentenced in April to three years in jail for cheating Austria out of half the value of a sanatorium confiscated by the Nazis from one of Templ’s relatives. In May, the Austrian Supreme Court upheld the ruling but reduced Templ’s sentence to one year.
The court found that Templ had defrauded Austria by failing in his 2006 restitution application to mention his mother’s estranged sister, who would have been entitled to half the $1.4 million his mother received when she sold the property.
Templ rejected the allegation, but when he asked government officials where he should return the money, Windisch wrote to Templ’s attorney, “The republic makes no claims against your client in connection with the conduct of your client.”
Templ’s attorney, the renowned human rights lawyer Robert Amsterdam, has petitioned prosecutors to have the case declared a mistrial.
“This statement basically voids the ruling,” Amsterdam told JTA. [...]