Austria probes video of soldiers in Nazi salutes

"These types of actions allow for zero tolerance."

September 5, 2007 09:50
2 minute read.


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Austria's defense minister said Tuesday he had launched an investigation into an Internet video that reportedly showed Austrian soldiers making Hitler salutes. Norbert Darabos said an investigation was under way and confirmed that the incident took place in Austrian army barracks. The video - published on the video-sharing Web site YouTube - shows several young, uniformed soldiers engaged in offensive behavior, the newspaper Kleine Zeitung reported. It said that during the video, two men raise their arms in the straight-armed Nazi salute. One of the two is shown screaming "Heil Hitler," according to the newspaper. The roughly two-minute video was likely taken with a cell phone and showed the soldiers in a drunken state, the newspaper said. Attempts to view the video on YouTube Tuesday were met with a notice saying it had been taken down by the person who originally posted it. Darabos said those involved would have to "bear the consequences" and account for their actions. "These types of actions allow for zero tolerance," Darabos said. Hans-Georg Wallner, public information officer at the provincial military command in Salzburg, said three suspects have been interrogated in connection with the video and that a fourth person had been questioned as a witness. According to the defense ministry, the public prosecutor's office has also been informed. Wallner said the alleged incident occurred at the Schwarzenberg Caserne, Austria's largest barracks, on the outskirts of Salzburg. He declined to give details of the men's ages or origins but said the video was likely filmed between June and August. Not all parts of the video may have been taken at the same time, he said. "We are deeply shocked," Wallner said. Austrian law bans the glorification of Adolf Hitler and attempts to diminish, deny or justify the Holocaust. Anyone convicted over the video could face between one and 10 years behind bars, the Austria Press Agency reported. Austria's justice ministry Tuesday rebutted claims by a prominent Jewish human rights group that it lacked the political will to bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice. The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a report recently published online that in the year to March 31, 2007, Austrian authorities did not make any "concrete progress" in prosecuting Nazi war criminals. Thomas Geiblinger, spokesman for Justice Minister Maria Berger, said Austria had made "serious efforts" since the beginning of the year. He said the ministry in July offered rewards for information leading to the capture of two fugitive Nazi criminals, Aribert Heim, a concentration camp doctor, and Alois Brunner, the right-hand man of Adolf Eichmann, the Gestapo officer who organized the extermination of the Jews. The Wiesenthal Center's report said the "obvious lack of political will in Vienna" could be seen in the handling of Croatian-born Milivoj Asner, indicted for alleged war crimes and who lives in the southern Austrian city of Klagenfurt. It contends that Asner should be arrested and extradited to his homeland for trial. A former police chief in eastern Croatia, Asner allegedly enforced racist laws under Croatia's World War II Nazi puppet regime, which persecuted tens of thousands of Jews, Gypsies and Serbs. Geiblinger said two medical reports commissioned by the justice ministry found Asner, who is over 90, unfit to stand trial and unfit to be questioned. Under Austrian law, that prevents his extradition, he said. _____ On the Net:

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