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FACTUAL SYNOPSIS OF STEPHAN TEMPL CASE

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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. The commencement
of his sentence on 25 August 2014 was temporarily postponed and Stephan now is due to be imprisoned
on September 25, 2015.
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