Far-right judge candidate steps down, blames media

After days of intense criticism, Hubert Keyl, who had been designated as a candidate to become a federal judge by the Austrian government, withdrew his application. He says he was the victim of a witch hunt.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Far-right judge candidate steps down, blames media - NewsMavens
Austrian Federal Court in Vienna, Wikicommons.

Why this story matters:

The media are to blame, says Hubert Keyl, controversial judge candidate for the Federal Administrative Court. On Monday, he stated that the only reason why he withdrew his application was to protect his family.

Keyl's appointment had sparked heated criticism because of his documented right-wing extremism. Keyl was photographed making the Kühnen greeting, a modified version of the Hitler salute. The ex-fraternity member also campaigned against the beatification of Franz Jägerstätter, a WWII conscientious objector murdered by the Nazis.

Only the Freedom Party sided with Keyl. Freedom Party manager Christian Hafenecker called media reactions a "witch hunt" on Sunday. The phrase was repeated by party leader Hans-Christian Strache on Monday. Keyl is "the victim of a political and media witch hunt," said the vice-chancellor during a broadcast.

President Van der Bellen has implied that he had been against Keyl's appointment.

The human rights organization SOS-Mitmensch thanked the president in a tweet:

"The Federal Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor, the Minister of the Interior, and the President -- they all have the task of defending our constitutional state & defending anti-fascist fundamental values -- but only one has done so... Only one refused the appointment of Keyl. Thanks Van der Bellen!"

Details from the story:

  • Hubert Keyl has withdrawn his application as a judge for the Federal Administrative Court (BVwG). The controversial lawyer claimed he wanted to protect his family from media coverage.
  • Unofficial sources say Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen would have refused to appoint Keyl.
  • Keyl, who used to be a speaker in the FPÖ-Klub and who was repeatedly involved in right-wing controversies, had been nominated by the court for a judicial office.
  • Hubert Keyl made a public statement against the beatification of Franz Jägerstätter.
  • Franz Jägerstätter refused to serve in the Wehrmacht and was executed in 1943. The Austrian Catholic Church wanted to pay tribute to him. Keyl stated that the homage was a "slap in the face of every Christian soldier" in an article for Zur Zeit. Anyone who refused to serve in the Wehrmacht was "a traitor, and traitors should be condemned and not beatified," Keyl stated.
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