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His Excellency Dr Heinz Fischer,
Federal President of the Republic of Austria,
Hofburg, Leopoldinischer Trakt
A-1014 Vienna, Austria
Email: heinz.fischer@hofburg.at
Copy to:
Federal Minister Dr Wolfgang Brandstetter
Museumstrasse 7
A-1070 Vienna, Austria
Email: minister.justiz@bmj.gv.at

BY EMAIL AND COURIER
London, 16 September 2015
Dear Mr President,
Re: The Republic’s Rejection of Clemency in the case of Stephan Templ
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has shared with us your recent correspondence on the subject of
our client Mr Templ, including your reply to the request for clemency dated 8 September 2015 which
we accordingly reviewed.
We were so utterly taken aback at your letter that we sought and gained their approval to respond to
you directly. We feel that your letter was so inaccurate and misleading that our client deserves the
record to be set straight.
We note that the ADL applied to you for mercy for Mr Templ. In a case that is so inextricably tied to
the horrors of the Anschluss, and specifically the Nazis’ theft of Jewish-owned property, that the
Republic used its power to contrive a criminal case against a descendant of a family who lost not only
property, but their lives in 1938, is in itself an affront to justice.
We further note that the blanket rejection shown to those who have applied for you to use your discretion
to show mercy epitomises a bureaucratic and technical attitude that ignores the facts of the case and
betrays a determination to see Mr Templ jailed – no matter what the circumstances have proven to be.
Finally, we note that the letter was so replete with errors that it further betrays a hurried, unthinking and
unfeeling fettering of your discretion in order that the full might of the State not be prevented from
being brought to bear against an individual.

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While attempting to keep our comments to the strictest minimum, we wish to declare our objection at
the following which was contained in your reply to an application for mercy:
(i.)! a total reluctance to engage in any of arguments and positions that the ADL put forward in

their letter;
(ii.)! the affixing of an out-of-date - and irrelevant to an application for clemency - newspaper

article as purported reasoning for the rejection of mercy;
(iii.)! the basic factual errors contained within the letter that suggest the case file of Mr Templ
was not even reviewed before this out-of-hand rejection was sent; and
(iv.)! the raising and rejection of a type of clemency not even requested by the ADL that suggests
a wilful fettering of your discretion in this matter.
Some of the basic facts that were utterly mangled in your letter include:
(i.)! the fact that Mr Templ’s sentence was reduced from three years to one year, over a year

ago, on 6 June 2014;
(ii.)! the mathematics that suggests a third of a supposed three-year sentence would be 18
months;
(iii.)! that Dr Kretschmer was a “damaged party’ – as detailed below, the criminal case that found
Mr Templ guilty of serious fraud was expressly based on the State and the State alone being
the “damaged party”. To suggest otherwise is to ignore the published verdicts of your own
courts.
As for the newspaper article that was affixed to your letter in lieu of a reasoned decision to reject the
application for clemency, and as we have previously noted in our own letters to representatives of the
Republic of Austria, it is so replete with errors that we can only assume that it is being proffered as a
deliberate obfuscation of the real facts of the case.
We feel obliged to correct the errors that appear to wilfully misrepresent the established facts of the
case and that also serve to smear the reputation of Mr Templ – a man who has already been wronged
by the legal injustices of the case brought against him.
We set out blow our response to the article “The Republic of Austria Fights Back” attached to your
letter.

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Quote from Article

Our Response

“The court has found it proven that the accused
journalist, by a series of deliberate acts, untruthfully
pretended [sic] that his mother was an only child. But
the existence of an aunt who was also eligible to make
a claim was concealed by him.”

We note the following:
(i.)! not one other applicant noted the existence of Dr
Kretschmer and this was so notwithstanding that
every other applicant was represented by Dr
Scheubrein, the notary public.

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(ii.)!in exchange for 40% of the money they stood to
receive, the public notary Dr Scheubrein made
applications on their behalf.
(iii.)!Dr Scheubrein, the public notary, did not note the
existence of Dr Kretschmer in his family tree.
(iv.)!he had full access to the public files which would
have disclosed this fact.
(v.)! the court rejected not only Mr Templ’s request for
Dr Scheubrein to be interviewed, but also the
public prosecutor’s identical request.
“At the same time, the accused prevented his 84-yearold aunt from making a claim to the half share that she
was equally entitled to.“

The verdict of the court did not find that Mr Templ
prevented his aunt from applying for restitution.
We wish to point out that:
(i.)! Dr Kretschmer did not make an application before
the expiry of the deadline;
(ii.)!it was not proved, or even suggested, that Mr
Templ in any way prevented Dr Kretschmer from
applying;
(iii.)!the Arbitration Panel’s only responsibility was to
decide upon applications submitted in time – those
who did not apply in time could not have been
considered by the Panel;
(iv.)! under the laws of the Republic of Austria, that
nobody was “entitled” to property put up for
restitution;
(v.)! it is an inherent and explicit characteristic of
restitution law that it is not an inheritance claim –
only those who apply in time for restitution can be
considered even nominally “entitled” to anything;
and
(vi.)! it is evidenced by Section 42 of the Restitution
Law of the Republic of Austria which states that
there is not legal right to this property.

“The damaged aunt consequently reported her
nephew, and was represented in the proceedings as a
private party. “

As noted above – and indeed repeated in every letter
we write on this case – Dr Kretschmer was not found
to have been damaged by the criminal courts.
We further note that the only party who was found to
be damaged by Mr Templ was the Republic of Austria
- please refer to every court decision in this case.

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Dr Kretschmer did indeed report her nephew at the
police station after Dr Scheubrein belatedly informed
her she missed the deadline - three years after the
property was sold.
However, we note that the Indictment was not brought
on her behalf – it was the State who was explicitly
named as the the victim. Dr Kretschmer was not the
victim.
We further note that the Verdict of 25 April 2013
expressly rejected that Dr Kretschmer was a victim in
this matter.
We further note that this Verdict referred Dr
Kretschmer to the civil courts, because she had no
claims here. We note that she was expressly referred to
the civil courts because the court did not determine any
of her alleged damage in this case.
We further note that on 22 January 2014, the Supreme
Court upheld these decisions – (a) that the State was
the victim and (b) that Dr Kretschmer was not the
victim.
We further note that Dr Kretschmer’s appeal against
this decision was rejected on 20 March 2014.
“The sentence for serious fraud is final; an appeal
about the extent of the penalty has not yet been
decided.”

This newspaper article is out of date – Mr Templ’s
sentence was reduced from three years to one year on
6 June 2014.
We pose the question why you used an article from
April 2014 in a letter rejecting clemency dated
September 2015.

“The Republic of Austria was damaged in the legal
sense.”

This sentence makes no sense.
We note that the Republic of Austria was
unequivocally held to be the damaged party by every
single court decision in this case.
We further note that the Republic of Austria was held
to be the victim of “serious fraud” by Mr Templ under

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sections 146 and 147 of the Criminal Code of the
Federal Republic of Austria.
We further note that to be convicted of serious fraud –
as Mr Templ was - you have to damage someone and
that there is any condition or nuance to this provision
is a legal nonsense.
“For, because of proven serious fraud by the
defendant, the Republic transferred a share of property
to his mother twice as great in value as was actually
due her.”

Speaking of shares being “due” to Dr Templ is to be
ignorant of, or to deliberately ignore, restitution law.
We stress that this was not an inheritance case – one
cannot speak of what one is “owed” or of “rights” to a
property.
We note that if an applicant was successful, the
Arbitration Panel recommended that they be returned
a share in the property. The Republic then decided in
what proportion they would receive. That the Republic
transferred 1/12th of the property to Dr Templ, is
because she was the applicant who was closest to the
former owner of the Sanatorium.
We further note that had another relative in her
generation applied successfully, they would have
received an equal share. No such relative did apply in
time.

“One can, admittedly, have a discussion about the
proportionality of penalties for property crimes
compared to violent crimes.”

We note that the State has characterised this as a
property crime. We note this suggests that their
property was stolen from them by fraud.
We pose the question how does the State lay claim to
any proportion of a property once stolen from its
owners by the Nazis?
We note that Mr Templ was found guilty because the
State owned the property at the time it was transferred.
We note that this implies the state had a right to this
property.
We note that this means the state does not believe that
restitution means the return of property to the rightful
owners (including descendants of those owners).

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We too have written you a letter requesting clemency for our client and we now anticipate a similar
response. Before this, however, what we would like to leave you with is the reminder that an application
for clemency is not a legal argument – it is not an application sought or granted based on legal rights or
wrongs – but is an exercise of mercy by the highest power in the land to the lowest, powerless individual.
The act of clemency lies wholly within your discretion, Mr President, and if you decide not to show
mercy and not to spare Mr Templ jail, then we can understand that it is because you do not see anything
in this case, or in Mr Templ, that is deserving of mercy.
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your
Father in heaven may forgive your sins”. Mark 11:25
Austria in 2015 has seen the horrors that occur when those with power close their hearts to their people
and the least we would ask of you is that you do us and our client the courtesy of reading his file and
learning the facts of his case before you reject any future letters of clemency on his behalf.
Mr Templ is now a convicted criminal because the Republic of Austria claims an application form he
filled out for restitution is homologous with serious fraud. Unless and until you change that, Austria
carries his conviction on its shoulders.
Sincerely,

Robert R. Amsterdam
AMSTERDAM & PARTNERS LLP

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