Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1994 - Austria, 1 January 1994, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa034c.html [accessed 7 December 2013]
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Allegations were received of ill-treatment of detainees by police and prison officials. One conscientious objector to military service served a prison sentence; he was considered a prisoner of conscience. In March Austria ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. In November the UN Committee against Torture, in its first ruling on an individual submission, found that the Austrian authorities had violated the Convention against Torture. Qani Halimi-Nedzibi had alleged that a police officer from the Lower Austria Drugs Squad had beaten him about the head, punched him in the stomach and forced his head into a bucket of water to force him to sign a false confession (see Amnesty International Report 1992). Although Qani Halimi-Nedzibi made these allegations before an investigating judge in December 1988, no inquiry was launched until March 1990. Although the committee found insufficient evidence to sustain Qani Halimi-Nedzibi's allegations of ill-treatment, it concluded that the delay of 15 months before an investigation into the allegations was launched was unreasonably long and violated Article 12 of the Convention. A number of reports were received that people had been ill-treated in police custody. For example, Rudolf Reumann, who was arrested for riding a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol, alleged that he had been beaten in the street and struck with batons at a police station in Salzburg in August 1992. His injuries included a perforated ear-drum, bruising and a broken finger. Rudolf Reumann himself was accused of resisting state authority and of causing aggravated bodily harm to two police officers. In June the Vienna Independent Administrative Tribunal ruled that excessive force had been used by police officers in arresting Werner Hirtmayr (see Amnesty International Report 1993). Werner Hirtmayr had suffered torn ligaments to his right knee necessitating surgery. Several allegations were received that prisoners in Vienna Provincial Court prison had been ill-treated by prison officers. In March Ahmet S. alleged that he had been hit in the face, kicked and struck with a rubber truncheon by a prison officer. Helmut Hejtmanek spent a total of four months in prison for failing to report for military duties after his call-up in 1989 and for refusing to obey military orders following his call-up in 1986. He had previously received a suspended prison sentence for the second offence. Helmut Hejtmanek's original application for conscientious objector status had been rejected by the authorities in 1985. He then refused to perform both military and alternative service. He was arrested in January following a routine police identity check. In January Amnesty International called for the release of Helmut Hejtmanek. The organization does not normally adopt total objectors as prisoners of conscience. However, in cases where people have applied to perform alternative service on sincere grounds of conscience it will adopt them if their applications are turned down, even if subsequently, and often precisely because of this rejection, they decide to become total objectors. In February Amnesty International asked the authorities about the investigation into Rudolf Reumann's allegations of ill-treatment. The organization was informed in September that the Salzburg Public Procurator had brought charges against two police officers under Article 312 ("tormenting or neglecting a detainee") of the Penal Code. The trial of the two officers began in December. In May Amnesty International asked the authorities about the steps taken to investigate Ahmet S.'s allegations of ill-treatment. In September the organization was told that an investigation by the Vienna Public Procurator had resulted in charges being brought against four officers of Vienna Provincial Court prison. In August Amnesty International asked the authorities whether an earlier decision not to bring charges against the officers accused of ill-treating Werner Hirtmayr would be re-examined in the light of the decision by the Vienna Independent Administrative Tribunal. In December Amnesty International was informed by the authorities that the evidence presented at the Tribunal's hearings had not clarified the circumstances which led to Werner Hirtmayr's injuries. It had therefore not been possible to charge or discipline any of the officers involved.