1) We still have no access to the police files on the case.
Such access is, however, necessary, to prepare the defense. In fact, none of the
10 defendants has so far presented their list of witnesses.
2) During the days around Christmas and New Year, I was in a house in the mountains with friends visiting. Altogether at least 6 times during those 14 days, police went up the dead-end road to the house and wrote down number plates of the visitors' cars. Also, they peeped through the window into the house and asked if I was there.
3) In September 2008, just when the 10 were released from
prison, the biggest daily newspaper reported that police was convinced that VGT
was responsible for arson and 224 cases of criminal damage. VGT sued this
newspaper for libel and one in the first round. The newspaper appealed in the
last minute to delay procedures. Now, the upper appeal court has ruled that the
newspaper has libeled VGT and must pay damages as well as publicly state that
their statement was wrong. Also, they must publish that for 30 days on their
4) A number of people have been pulled in and questioned by police in the last weeks. Only 3 days ago, an activist had been ordered to the police station for an interview under threat of arrest. As did the others, he came with his lawyer, wearing gloves and a hat so that he would not leave fingerprints or DNA. He said he refused to give a statement. In his case, though, the police was not just very aggressive and assertive as with the others, but they also brought a state doctor. They claimed the activist is a possible suicide candidate and the doctor must see him and possibly move him to a psychiatric unit! The lawyer intervened, did not allow the doctor to see the activist and immediately left. The police wanted to stop them but thanks to the intervention of the lawyer they did not succeed!
5) We are planning a number of press conferences before and
during the trial. In 2 days, on Wednesday, we will do our next press conference
on the issue of the government tightening the law instead of making it more
compatible with democracy. We had very good coverage so far on this issue and
wonderful support, not just from other animal groups and NGOs from other social
movements, but also from the journalist union and the guild of lawyers, who
explicitly referred to the animal rights case as an example of the damage this
law can do.
6) At last a bit of very good news. The special police unit
chasing animal activists had decided in June 2008, while the activists were in
prison, that they want to try to remove the charity status from VGT so that VGT
can be dissolved and driven to bankruptcy. Just after the police had to give the
computers back to VGT according to a court ruling 10 months after the raids, tax
inspectors raided the VGT office yet again and went through all book keeping. A
ministerial internal letter stated directly, that VGT should loose its charity
status. Arguments were that VGT was too radical and that VGT demanded law
changes. It was said that demos and actions are contrary to being a charity. But
the tax inspectors turned out to be objective and after 18 months of
investigating found that VGT was a charity. On 12th January 2010 they had a
meeting with the ministerial people and told us that they managed to persuade
them that their view is, indeed, correct. On 15th January, the investigation was
officially ended and VGT was given the go ahead of being a charity after all!