Animal Protection > Worldwide Actions > Austria
Matthew Hiasl Pan, May '08

VIENNA, Austria: Matthew Hiasl Pan isn't even a human, but that hasn't stopped his supporters from taking his case to Europe's top human rights court.

Austrian animal rights activists are fighting to get Pan � a 26-year-old chimpanzee � legally declared a "person" and they said Wednesday they have filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

The Vienna-based Association Against Animal Factories insists the chimp needs that legal standing so a guardian can be appointed to look out for his interests � especially if the bankrupt animal shelter caring for him shuts down.

"We appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, because everybody is entitled to a fair trial, even chimps," said Martin Balluch, the group's president.

In January, Austria's Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that had rejected the activists' request to have a trustee appointed for Pan. The high court ruled that under Austrian law, only people are entitled to have guardians.


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