Does the Balluch arrest have anything to do with the price of free-range eggs in Austria?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2008:


VIENNA–Arrested on May 21, 2008,
Association Against Animal Factories founder
Martin Balluch and nine other Austrian activists
remained in jail three months later, on charges
described by Balluch in a July 7, 2008
arraignment statement as “seven butanoic acid
stinkbombs, seven cases of broken windows,
three cases of sprayed graffiti or
paint-daubing, two cases of damage to hunting
platforms and to an empty, deserted pheasant
enclosure; two rescues of pigs and pheasants
without any damage to property; and one
threatening letter.”
The incidents occurred from 2002 through
2007. Fifteen of the 22 incidents targeted a
single furrier. Balluch and supporters have
alleged that the arrests, originally detaining
13 activists linked to seven organizations, were
timed to prevent the launch of an initiative
campaign seeking passage of an amendment to the
Austrian constitution that would incorporate a
guarantee of animal welfare.

According to an update posted on August
7, 2008 to the European Vegetarian and Animal
News Alliance web site, “The main animal
protection organisations in Austria joined
together in the 1990s to form a free range egg
inspection project. This project takes the form
of a small private limited company. The egg
producers pay to use a free range logo and to
have their eggs inspected in supermarkets by
people working for the inspection company. The
police now claim that this inspection company is
being used to finance a supposed criminal
The EVANA cited a police document
asserting that the criminal organization “under
the pseudonym Animal Liberation Front, carries
out attacks” against targets of animal advocacy.
According to EVANA, the police document alleges
that “the three organisations managing the
company supply a direct flow of money from the
inspection company to the criminal organisation
in the following breakdown: Wiener
Tierschutzverein approximately 30.5%; Verein
gegen Tierfabriken approximately 30.5%; Vier
Pfoten approximately 30.5%; European Egg
Consortium Ltd. aproximately 8.5%.”
Said EVANA, “Charges are being prepared
against police for, amongst other things,
Vier Pfoten campaign director Jürgen
Faulmann, 39, was among the persons arrested
and still held in detention as of mid-August.
“Until this day, nothing substantial was brought
forward against Jürgen Faulmann,” Vier Pfoten
representative Johanna Stadler-Wolffersgrün said
after his arraignment hearing.
“We send him every day a work package and
visit him every week,” Vier Pfoten president
Helmut Dungler told ANIMAL PEOPLE.
“The interim report presented by the
police documents, e-mails, and [covertly
recorded] phone conversations can only establish
limited alliances among the persons concerned,”
said a Vier Pfoten press release. “Particularly
in the case of Jürgen Faulmann the investigation
record appears to be a collection of citations
bearing no reference to elements of an offense.”
But Dungler indicated to ANIMAL PEOPLE
that the EVANA version of events was
substantially garbled. “Police investigated in
April the auditing/inspection
company Kontrollstelle für artgemäße
Nutztierhaltung, which is an animal
welfare inspection company for alternative hens
and eggs,” Dungler confirmed. “But the police
didn´t say that WTV, VgT and Vier Pfoten are
‘responsible’ [for any wrongdoing]. The police
stopped their investigations of this company in
May,” Dungler said, “having cleared up that
there is no financial support from this company
to the criminal organisations.
“I think there is no connection between
the Balluch arrest and the former investigation
of the egg auditing company,” Dungler said.
“The egg-auditing company Kontrollstelle made the
defamation case against the police official,”
Dungler added. “Vier Pfoten is a 30% shareholder
in the company. Therefore it doesn´t make sense
for us to make our own defamation claim.”
Balluch in the 1990s was a vocal ally of
Barry Horne, a British activist who was
convicted at least three times of property
offenses undertaken in the name of animal
advocacy, including of multiple arsons.
Sentenced in 1997 to serve 18 years in prison,
Horne died in 2002 after his fifth prolonged
hunger strike.
Unlike Horne, Balluch has emphasized
tactics bringing pubic notice to legislative
goals. Notably, Balluch in March 2003 conducted
an “open rescue” of seven seriously ill
battery-caged hens that led to the farmer being
fined and ordered to reduce his caging density.
Balluch was convicted of theft, but the Austrian
High Court in June 2004 reversed the conviction,
two weeks after the Austrian parliament banned
battery caging.
The Austrian Supreme Court in January
2008 rejected Balluch’s last appeal in a
year-long attempt to have an ex-laboratory
chimpanzee declared legally a person. The case
was intended to prevent the possibility that the
chimp might be sold outside Austria, where
laboratory use of great apes is now prohibited,
and be returned to lab use. The chimp had been
retired to a sanctuary, but the sanctuary went
While Balluch’s lawsuit was unsuccessful
in Austria, publicity about it appears to have
boosted a resolution passed on June 26, 2008 by
the environment committee of the Spanish
Parliament, asking the Parliament to ban the use
of great apes in invasive experiments, as many
other nations have already done, especially in
western Europe.
“Using apes in circuses, television
commercials, or filming will also be banned,”
if the resolution becomes law, explained Lee
Glendinning of The Guardian. “While housing apes
in Spanish zoos will remain legal, supporters of
the bill have said the conditions in which most
of them live will need to improve substantially.”
Spanish zoos presently house about 315 great apes.

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