Prosecutors in Tyrol are seeking to strip parliamentary immunity from a politician of the anti-mass migration Freedom Party (FPÖ) over “hate posts” made to his Facebook page by other users.
According to prosecutors, FPÖ politician Markus Abwerzger should be charged with incitement because of posts on his Facebook page. The prosecutors do not claim that the Tyrolean FPÖ chief made them himself, but rather that they were made by others and he did not delete them from his page quickly enough, Der Standard reports.
Spokesman for the Innsbruck public prosecutor Hansjörg Mayr said several users who posted comments and content to Mr. Abwerzger’s page have been evaluated by the Tyrolean branch of the Austrian domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, and will be charged.
The prosecutor was tipped off to the posts by Markus Wilhelm who runs a local blog about news in the Tyrolean region that is largely anti-FPÖ. Mr. Wilhelm is said to have monitored the Facebook page for a month and recorded various anti-migrant statements made by users, some of which he said were likely fake users.
The local blogger claims that the Tyrolean FPÖ chief refuses to delete comments that are hostile toward migrants but does delete those that are critical to himself.
A committee in the regional assembly of Tyrol will discuss Mr. Abwerzger’s immunity on January 19th. The FPÖ politician has even asked the assembly to revoke his immunity “so that the public prosecutor can investigate this matter.”
Abwerzger has claimed that he is not at fault for the posts or the reaction to them as he has hired a staff member to edit and caretake his Facebook page. He claims that there is simply not enough time to delete every post as soon as it is posted.
A similar case was brought forth by Vienna prosecutors against FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache. Vienna prosecutors also accused Strache of not deleting the comments made to his Facebook page by others quickly enough.
Facebook has come under fire from European Union (EU) lawmakers because of anti-migrant statements made on the platform. EU politicians have said that Facebook must do more to censor and delete offensive messages within 24 hours or the company may face penalties.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has also threatened Facebook over any illegal speech made on the site saying that they will sue the California-based company if it does not comply with German speech laws or delete illegal speech in a timely manner.