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July 20, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The head of the Austrian branch of Human Life International – Dietmar Fischer – and three sidewalk counselors have been convicted and fined for ‘stalking’ abortionist, Dr. Johannes Hanfstingl.

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Despite the fact that the abortionist himself testified that he was not stalked, Judge Erik Nauta, of the regional court of Graz, sentenced the four pro-life activists to fines totaling €8490 – over $12,000 (US).

“The complete bias and disregard for the facts in this ruling shows the extent to which anti-life advocates, including judges, will go to perpetuate the culture of death,” said Human Life International (HLI) Interim President Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carambula. “This is the kind of persecution HLI’s pro-life missionaries around the world face on a daily basis.”

According to the accused, they were simply engaged in standard practices for pro-life sidewalk counselors. In fact, Fischer himself never actually engaged in sidewalk counseling, but simply provided the materials that the sidewalk counselors handed out to abortion clients.

“Dietmar is accused of offering, for free, eleven week old baby models, support flyers for pregnant mothers and rosaries for the pregnant counseling centre in Graz,” said Austria-based Joannes Bucher, HLI’s regional director for Europe. “These pro-life resources were given as support from HLI Austria, but Dietmar himself was never in Graz to counsel women in front of this abortion centre.”

Austrian pro-lifers have urged pro-life activists worldwide to express their concerns to Austrian minister of Justice Beatrix Karl at [email protected]

A report released this week by the Catholic video website Gloria.tv described Judge Nauta’s ruling as “contradictory” and “bizarre.”

Judge Nauta’s ruling was handed down in early April, and the case is currently under appeal. If the appeal fails, Fischer could face up to three months in jail if he does not pay the fine of $10,000; his colleagues could also face jail time.

“The appeal currently underway is based on the fact that all of the witnesses for the prosecution, including the abortionist, admit that Mr. Fischer did not stalk the abortionist, but merely supplied leaflets and materials to the counselors,” said Monsignor Barreiro.

“Look at the testimonies,” said Fischer. “The abortionist Dr. Hanfstingl told the court that we did not ‘stalk’ him, and that we only wanted to inform the women going to the clinic about pro-life resources.”

Human Life International has established a donation page to help defray the legal fees and associated charges for Mr. Fischer and his colleagues.

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