Mo, 25. März 2019
12.03.2019 16:28

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Ruling overturned:

Maurer trial to be repeated, ruling overturned

In the case of former Green politician Sigi Maurer, the Higher Regional Court of Vienna (Oberlandesgericht Wien, OLG) overturned the ruling against the 33-year-old former politician on Tuesday. Maurer had been sued for defamation after she published sexually explicit and offensive messages sent to her on social media and included the name of the account owner. The account owner then sued Sigi Maurer, alleging he had not sent the messages in question and accusing her of defamation. The trial will now have to be repeated.

On May 30th, 2018, Maurer had published obscene messages sent from the Facebook messenger account of the owner of a craft beer shop. Maurer made public a screenshot of the sexually explicit messages. Users subsequently flooded the man with insults, his shop received poor ratings on the internet and he was threatened several times. The 40-year-old denied having authored the messages in question and sued for defamation.

The court of origin found her guilty, but this ruling has now been overturned. The OLG had reservations about the court of origin’s judgment, which held that Maurer had failed to prove that it was indeed her accuser who had sent the messages in question. The messages were sent from the accuser’s computer, from his Facebook account. Demanding that Maurer provide proof above and beyond this fact set the bar almost unattainably high, the OLG considered.

The accuser, who held that he did not send the messages in question, was unable to convincingly argue that anyone other than himself wrote and sent them. The accuser’s simple statement that ‘other people had access to the computer’ made it impossible to prove conclusively that he himself had sent the messages.

The number of possible authors was very small, yet the accuser failed to determine any other specific person who could have potentially sent the messages. A hypothetical unknown author would have had very little time to use the computer without being noticed. At the time the messages were sent, there were other people in the accuser’s beer store, but none of them saw anyone use the computer.

Maurer said she was „extremely happy“ after the ruling was overturned and confident she would be fully acquitted soon.

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