COUR EUROPÉENNE DES DROITS DE L HOMME EUROPEAN COURTOFHUMAN RIGHTS - PDF

Description
CONSEIL DE L EUROPE COUNCIL OF EUROPE COUR EUROPÉENNE DES DROITS DE L HOMME EUROPEAN COURTOFHUMAN RIGHTS FIRST SECTION CASE OF KRONE VERLAG GMBH & CO. KG v. AUSTRIA (no. 5) (Application no. 9605/03) JUDGMENT

Please download to get full document.

View again

of 16
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Information
Category:

Literature

Publish on:

Views: 25 | Pages: 16

Extension: PDF | Download: 0

Share
Transcript
CONSEIL DE L EUROPE COUNCIL OF EUROPE COUR EUROPÉENNE DES DROITS DE L HOMME EUROPEAN COURTOFHUMAN RIGHTS FIRST SECTION CASE OF KRONE VERLAG GMBH & CO. KG v. AUSTRIA (no. 5) (Application no. 9605/03) JUDGMENT STRASBOURG 14 November 2008 This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision. KRONE VERLAG GMBH & CO KG v. AUSTRIA JUDGMENT 1 In the case of Krone Verlag GmbH & Co. KG v. Austria, The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of: Christos Rozakis, President, Nina Vajić, Anatoly Kovler, Elisabeth Steiner, Khanlar Hajiyev, Giorgio Malinverni, George Nicolaou, judges, and Søren Nielsen, Section Registrar, Having deliberated in private on 21 October 2008, Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date: PROCEDURE 1. The case originated in an application (no. 9605/03) against the Republic of Austria lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ( the Convention ) by Krone Verlag GmbH & Co KG, the owner of the daily newspaper Neue Kronenzeitung with its registered office in Vienna ( the applicant company ), on 20 January The Austrian Government ( the Government ) were represented by their Agent, Ambassador F. Trauttmansdorff, Head of the International Law Department at the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 3. The applicant company alleged, in particular, that its conviction for defamation under the Media Act had infringed its right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the Convention. 4. On 8 March 2006 the Court decided to give notice of the application to the Government. Under the provisions of Article 29 3 of the Convention, it decided to examine the merits of the application at the same time as its admissibility. 2 KRONE VERLAG GMBH & CO KG v. AUSTRIA JUDGMENT THE FACTS I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE 5. Krone Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, a limited liability company with its registered office in Vienna, is the owner of the daily newspaper Neue Kronenzeitung published by Mediaprint Zeitungs- und Zeitschriftenverlag GmbH & Co. KG (hereafter the publisher ). 1. Background 6. In 1996 the T association and another association founded the Techno-Z FH Forschungs- und Entwicklungs-GmbH (hereafter Techno-Z FH ). This non-profit company was to promote and offer scientific support to the development of the information and communication society by conducting research projects and scientific studies in this field, by offering training, organising public presentations, editing publications and carrying out projects with other similar institutions. Techno-Z FH was sponsored by, inter alia,the Region of Salzburg. 7. In May 1999 Mr Dollhäubl, chairman of the T association at the time, was dismissed. The association held a press conference at the same time and praised the development of Techno-Z FH. 8. The applicant company subsequently published a series of articles about Mr Bruck, the managerial director of Techno-Z FH, in its daily newspaper Neue Kronenzeitung. 2. The articles at issue 9. On 27 May 1999 the applicant company published an article headlined Secret report discloses new scandal in Techno-Z! (Geheimbericht enthüllt neuen Skandal um Techno-Z!) The relevant parts read as follows: (German original).[...] Ein streng geheimer Bericht deckt haarklein auf, wie locker es Medienprofessor Peter A- Bruck in seiner Techno-Z-Firma bei Finanzen nahm! Bruck ist Geschäftsführer einer Techno-Z-Firma, und zwar der FH Forschungsund Entwicklungs-GmbH. Und kassiert dort fürstlich wie ein bisher geheimgehaltener Statusbericht über die Gesellschaft enthüllt. Bei der Kontrolle 1998 fielen die Prüfer fast vom Hocker. Bruck hatte zu der Zeit keinen gültigen Dienstvertrag, laut altem Vertrag hätte er rund S brutto verdient. Doch der KRONE VERLAG GMBH & CO KG v. AUSTRIA JUDGMENT 3 Medienprofessor ließ sich S im Monat überweisen, dazu noch S als Prämienauszahlung. Es konnte nicht nachvollzogen werden, mit welchem Recht sich Bruck die insgesamt S monatlich genehmigte... Doch damit nicht genug: Auch die Reiselust ließ sich der Herr vom Techno -Z finanzieren. Allein für 1997 verrechnete er ,24 S an Dienstreisen. Und für 1998 waren wieder S für Brucks Dienstausflüge vorgesehen. Immerhin ein guter Tausender pro Tag... Und selbst damit war die finanzielle Gier noch nicht gestillt: Eine hohe sechsstellige Summe für Tantiemen kam noch dazu, also eine Art Prämie. Bei einer Schulung für das Arbeitsmarktservice (AMS) ließ Bruck sich S überweisen. Denn seine Firma hätte S Gewinn gemacht. Falsch sagten die Prüfer. Es waren S weniger. [...] (Translation from German)...a very secret report discloses in great detail how lax the media professor Aurelius Bruck was about the finances in his company Techno-Z!... At the 1998 audit the auditors almost fell off their chair. Bruck had no valid employment contract at that time; according to his old contract, he would have earned a gross salary of approximately ATS 72,000. But the media-professor had transferred himself ATS 80,000 per month and a further premium of ATS 10,000. It was not possible to ascertain by which right Bruck was helping himself to a total of ATS 90,000 per month... But this was not enough: Bruck had also financed his wanderlust. For 1997 alone he charged ATS 392, for business trips. And for 1998 another ATS 400,000 were provided for Bruck's business excursions. That's a good thousand [schillings] per day...but even with this, [Bruck's] financial avarice was not satisfied: a high six-figure sum for 'royalties', a kind of premium, was added. At a training workshop for the Labour Market Service Bruck had transferred himself ATS 142,000 as his company had made a profit of ATS 247,000. Wrong said the auditors. It was ATS 200,000 less On 28 May 1999 the applicant company published another article headlined Techno-Z: Scandal concerning media professor - bank disclosed trick-... The business dealings of Mr Bruck. (Techno-Z: Skandal um Medienprofessor Bank deckte Trick auf [...] Die Geschäfte des Herrn Bruck). The relevant parts read as follows: (German original) Die Geschäfte des Herrn Bruck Der Skandal rund um den sogenannten Medienprofessor Peter Aurelius Bruck am Salzburger Techno-Z wird immer ärger: Nicht nur bei Gehalt, Prämien und Dienstreisen langte Bruck voll zu. Ohne Genehmigung streckte er beim Firmenkonto den Überziehungsrahmen. Als die Bank das merkte, war die Hölle los! Die Krone hat die seltsamen Geschäfte des Professors aufgedeckt. Ein Geheimbericht zeigt, wie locker es dieser Peter Aurelius Bruck mit Finanzen nahm: Für sich selbst S im Monat (Gehalt plus Prämien), dafür gab es weder Vertrag noch Beschluss. 4 KRONE VERLAG GMBH & CO KG v. AUSTRIA JUDGMENT Rund S zahlt die Techno-Z-Firma jährlich für Dienstreisen Brucks. Dazu kassierte er jährlich eine hohe sechsstellige Summe an Tantiemen. Unberechtigt, wie die internen Prüfer nachwiesen. Doch damit nicht genug: Eigenmächtig ließ er auf Firmenkonten den Überziehungsrahmen von 2 auf weit über 3 Millionen S ausweiten. Ohne Genehmigung! Als die Bank auf die Ungereimtheit kam, holte sie unverzüglich für die letzten Auszahlungen, das ganze Geld zurück. Diese Zahlungen waren ja nicht gedeckt! Leidtragende waren die Mitarbeiter: Wegen Brucks Finanz-Tricks wurde 1998 einmal sogar ihr Gehalt einige Zeit nicht ausbezahlt! Übrigens: Einer der Kontrolleure, die diese unfaßbaren Zustände aufgedeckt haben, bekam aus Rache nicht einmal sein Honorar bezahlt... [...] (Translation from German) The scandal concerning the so-called 'media-professor' Peter Aurelius Bruck at the Salzburg Techno-Z gets worse and worse: not only with his salary, premiums and business trips did Bruck really help himself. Without authorisation he exceeded the credit line of the company's bank account. When the bank noticed this all hell broke loose! The Krone has disclosed the most dubious business dealings on the part of the professor. A secret report shows how lax Aurelius Bruck was about the finances: he helped himself to ATS 90,000 per month (salary plus premium), there was neither a contract nor a decision authorising this. The Techno-Z company pays approximately ATS 400,000 yearly for B's 'business trips'. He also collected a yearly high six-figure for 'royalties'. By the way, one of the auditors who disclosed this inconceivable state of affairs was not even paid his fees out of revenge This article was followed by a further text in a small box which stated: (German original) [...]Die Spesenritter und Abkassierer haben tatsächlich dem Ansehen Salzburgs als Zukunftsland schwer geschadet. Schausberger hat die Gefahr klar erkannt: Über der Grenze hat Bayerns Ministerpräsident Edmund Stoiber viele vorbildhafte Technologieparks eingerichtet. Wenn es um Merkwürdigkeiten geht, so taucht in Salzburg immer wieder der Name des sogenannten Medienexperten Peter Aurelius Bruck auf. Der umtriebige Professor hat einen Schutzpatron: Niemand geringeren als Landesvize Arno Gasteiger. Das beweist auch die Teilnehmerliste jenes Geheimtreffens, das Gasteiger im Techno-Z organisieren ließ (siehe Bericht). Da war zunächst das seltsame Bürgernetz, eine Bruck- Idee, für die locker Millionen an Steuer- & Stromgeld flott gemacht werden sollten, Kinder hätten damit Zugang zu den Internet-Pornoseiten der Sex-Industrie gehabt. [...] KRONE VERLAG GMBH & CO KG v. AUSTRIA JUDGMENT 5 (Translation from German)... Expense account profiteers and rip-off merchants (Spesenritter und Abkassierer) have really damaged Salzburg's reputation as Region of the Future... Whenever the discussion turns to dubious affairs, the name of the so-called media expert Peter Aurelius Bruck crops up again and again in Salzburg... First, there was the strange citizen web, one of Bruck's ideas, for which millions of tax money was to be made readily available. had [With this idea] children would have had access to the pornographic sites of the internet sex industry On 29 May 1999 a further article entitled Techno-Z: the second audit also shows shortcomings in Bruck's company - How he deceived colleagues The way Mister 'Media Professor' cheated (Techno-Z: Auch zweite Prüfung zeigt arge Mangel in Brucks Firma Wie er Mitarbeiter tauschte So trickste der Herr Medienprofessor ) stated: (German original) Kein Ende im Skandal um den sogenannten Medienprofessor Peter Aurelius Bruck und seine Firma im Salzburger Techno-Z. Ein fettes Gehalt, satte Tantiemen und jährlich S für Dienstreisen lässt sich der Herr Professor bezahlen. Auch ein zweites Prüfer-Team fand schwere Mängel in Brucks Firma! Die Finanzen in Brucks Firma waren abenteuerlich. Das belegt ein streng geheimer Statusbericht in dem zwei Prüfer seine Geschäfte genau untersuchten. [...] (Translation from German) No end to the scandal concerning the so-called 'media professor' Peter Aurelius Bruck and his company in the Salzburg Techno-Z. Mister Professor has paid himself a big salary, big royalties and yearly ATS 400,000 business trips. A second team of auditors has also established serious shortcomings in Bruck's company! The finances of Bruck's company were adventurous. This is established by a very secret 'status report' in which two auditors examined his affairs thoroughly On 30 May 1999 an article entitled Concerning 'media professor' Bruck - Auditor has been waiting for his money for a year - Techno-Z: Is a request for bankruptcy looming? (Es geht um Medienprofessor Bruck Prüfer wartet seit einem Jahr auf Geld Techno-Z: Droht Konkursantrag?) stated: (German original) Jetzt wird es eng für den Medienprofessor Peter Aurelius Bruck und seine Firma im Salzburger Techno-Z: Zwei Prüfer haben ja in penibler Kleinarbeit die Finanz- 6 KRONE VERLAG GMBH & CO KG v. AUSTRIA JUDGMENT Tricks des Herrn durchleuchtet und arge Mängel entdeckt. Einer der Prüfer bekam noch immer kein Honorar. Er droht nun Konkursantrag gegen Bruck an! [...] (Translation from German) Now it's getting tight for the 'media professor' Peter Aurelius Bruck and his company in the Salzburg Techno-Z: two auditors have x-rayed in fastidious detail the financial tricks of [this] gentleman and have discovered serious shortcomings. One of the auditors has not yet received his fees. He is now threatening to file a bankruptcy petition against Bruck! A further article of 5 June 1999 entitled Report about 'media professor' earned 'thanks and consternation' (Bericht über Medienprofessor erntete Dank und Entsetzen ) stated inter alia: (German original) [...] Die Firma war so arg geführt, daß umgehend ein kaufmännischer Chef neben Bruck bestellt werden mußte, um solides Rechnungswesen und eine entsprechende Finanzgebarung zu garantieren! [...] (Translation from German)... The company was so badly managed that a commercial director had to be appointed 'immediately' in addition to Bruck to guarantee a solid accounting system and proper management of public finances Lastly, on 14 June 1999 an article entitled Further storm about wayward affairs in the Techno-Z company (Neuer Wirbel um eigenwillige Geschäfte in Techno-Z-Firma) stated (German original) [...]In seiner Firma im Salzburger Techno-Z gönnt er sich ein sattes Monatsgehalt, fette Tantiemen und S für Dienstreisen. Und jetzt werden eigenwillige Geschäfte ruchbar, weil Bruck in der Firma auch Verwandte beschäftigt. [...] Da verwundert es doch, dass der Herr Professor seine eigene Tochter mitarbeiten ließ. Noch dazu um einen etwas höheren Stundenlohn als andere Mitarbeiter der Firma...[...] KRONE VERLAG GMBH & CO KG v. AUSTRIA JUDGMENT 7 (Translation from German)... In his company in the Salzburg Techno-Z he helps himself to a big salary, big royalties and ATS 400,000 per year for business trips. Wayward affairs are becoming known now as Bruck also employs relatives in the company... In this context there is still astonishment that Mister Professor gave his own daughter a job. Moreover at a slightly higher salary than other employees in the company On 21 October 1999 Mr Bruck was dismissed from his post as managerial director. 3. Proceedings under the Media Act 17. Referring to the above statements, Mr Bruck instituted proceedings in the Vienna Regional Criminal Court (Landesgericht) under Sections 8a and 6 of the Media Act (Mediengesetz) claiming compensation and publication of the judgment. 18. The case was subsequently delegated to the Salzburg Regional Court, which held a hearing at which evidence was heard from Mr Bruck, the T association's managerial director, its chairman and his deputy at the time of the events, the commercial director of Techno-Z FH at the time of the events, the four auditors in question and the journalist who had written the articles at issue. 19. On 6 April 2001 the Regional Court, sitting as a single judge, dismissed Mr Bruck's claim. It found that the impugned statements consisted partly of value judgments with a sufficient factual basis and partly of true statements of fact. It noted that the auditors Mr Dollhäubl and Mr Kittl had established in a report of March 1998 serious shortcomings in the book-keeping and accounting system of Techno-Z FH. They found that there had been no composite book-keeping for the year 1997 and that this system did not correspond to the principles of proper bookkeeping under the Book-keeping Act (Rechnungslegungsgesetz). The management board of the T association had taken note of this report with thanks and consternation. Despite that report the financial status of the company had been unclear at the time because of missing data. The management board had subsequently decided to appoint a commercial director in addition to Mr Bruck in order to guarantee a solid accounting system and management of public finances. 20. A further report, by an external firm of business auditors commissioned by Mr Bruck, although more favourable, had also established shortcomings in the book-keeping and accounting system and had made recommendations for improvements. For instance, contrary to the company agreement, investments over a certain amount had been made without the authorisation of the company owners. Furthermore, a bank account for a certain project had been registered in Mr Bruck's name. Therefore, the 8 KRONE VERLAG GMBH & CO KG v. AUSTRIA JUDGMENT articles' statement that Mr Bruck was lax about the finances of Techno-Z FH was true. 21. The court further noted that Mr Bruck's former contract had expired at the end of December 1997 and, although the main features of a new contract had been discussed, there had been no agreement on its fundamental aspects. Therefore, at the time of the audit in March 1998 Mr Bruck did not actually have a valid employment contract and the payouts, although not considered as arbitrary and tolerated, had taken place without any legal basis. Mr Bruck had not contested the amount of the sums mentioned in relation to his salary and expenses for business trips. The notions wanderlust and business excursions and financial avarice, expense account profiteer, rip-off merchant and so-called media expert and the statement that the finances in the company were adventurous were permissible value judgments. The fact that Mr Bruck had wrongly calculated royalties had been proven by the audit report of Mr Dollhäubl and Mr Kittl. The statement that Mr Bruck had used financial tricks was therefore also true. Mr Bruck had in fact once exceeded the credit line of the company and had acknowledged that Mr Kittl had not been paid his fee. His argument that Mr Kittl had not been commissioned by Techno- Z FH was questionable and, in any event, did not exclude the possibility that another motive for the refusal to pay Mr Kittl had been revenge, which, moreover, appeared obvious in view of the consequences of his report. Mr Kittl had actually requested the opening of bankruptcy proceedings against Techno-Z FH. It was true that Mr Bruck's idea of providing every household in Salzburg with free internet access would have allowed children to access pornographic sites. Mr Bruck had employed his daughter in his company at a slightly higher salary per hour than other employees. 22. The court noted, lastly, that the applicant company could rely on Article 10 of the Convention, particularly as there was substantial public interest in the subject matter because public funds were at stake. 23. On an appeal by Mr Bruck, the Linz Court of Appeal (Oberlandesgericht), having held a hearing and sitting as a bench of three judges, quashed that judgment on 25 July It found that the Regional Court had left essential evidence unconsidered and had given pseudoreasons for its findings. In addition to the facts established by the Regional Court and referring to the statements of the witnesses made before that court, the Court of Appeal set out the following background to the case: 24. Mr Bruck was a former honorary professor at the Salzburg University and academic director of a technical college. In his function as managerial director of Techno-Z FH he had had responsibility, in particular, for acquiring research and development subsidies from national, European and international bodies in which task he was highly successful. The travel expenses for the corresponding business trips had never been challenged KRONE VERLAG GMBH & CO KG v. AUSTRIA JUDGMENT 9 and appeared reasonable in the light of their development over the years and in relation to the travel expenses of the company's other employees. 25. After Mr Bruck's former contract had expired at the end of December 1997, he was able to base his salary claim on an oral agreement of 23 December 1997 which was recorded in a note for the file and provided for a base amount of 80,000 Austrian Shillings (ATS) and a premium depending on any surplus produced by the company, this to be paid as monthly instalments
Related Search
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks
SAVE OUR EARTH

We need your sign to support Project to invent "SMART AND CONTROLLABLE REFLECTIVE BALLOONS" to cover the Sun and Save Our Earth.

More details...

Sign Now!

We are very appreciated for your Prompt Action!

x