Even days after the suicide of a doctor in Austria who was involved in the fight against Corona, the debate about hate online has not died down. The case seems like a cautionary tale. who failed
Some people shed tears. The vast majority hold up their glowing smartphone or a candle in silence. The dismay of the crowd is palpable. Several thousand people gathered on Monday evening for the sea of lights in front of Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral to commemorate doctor Lisa-Maria Kellermayr.
The doctor from Seewalchen am Attersee in Austria had been involved in the fight against Corona and had become an object of hate for opponents of vaccination on the Internet. Because of this – the farewell letters published by the media suggest – she broke.
Preliminary proceedings against a man from Upper Bavaria
A trail leads to Bavaria. “There is an investigation against a male person from Upper Bavaria with us,” confirmed a spokesman for the Munich II public prosecutor’s office according to information from the Bayern media group. According to the media group, the man from Upper Bavaria who is now in focus is suspected of having threatened the 36-year-old doctor in emails with torture and murder. In addition, the public prosecutor’s office in Wels also reported a suspect to the public prosecutor’s office in Berlin.
The suicide of the 36-year-old a few days ago has reignited the debate about hate online. None other than Austria’s Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen took the drama as an opportunity to issue a warning. “Let’s stop this intimidating and scaring,” wrote the head of state on Twitter. He and his wife laid flowers in front of the dead’s practice on Monday evening.
Despite the now established legal regulations against hate online at national and EU level, according to experts, online aggression is still far from under control. The “Zara” advice center in Vienna, which specializes in this area, has registered 8,000 cases in the past five years.
At times, Corona was the main topic in the hate postings, says spokesman Ramazan Yildiz about the deep social gap in the face of the pandemic. At least selectively, the “Zara” employees noticed a difference in the authorities’ eagerness to investigate. “Of course it’s always the case that you get different reactions to online crimes than offline crimes,” says Yildiz.
But even for those affected, it is often difficult to track their pursuers, regardless of the legal progress. “For many it is too emotional, too costly and time-consuming,” Yildiz continued. In the Kellermayr case, according to the public prosecutor’s office in Wels, investigations against unknown persons are still ongoing. It is currently being examined whether Kellermayr’s suicide will change the responsibilities. Based on past Supreme Court judgments, the authorities in the perpetrator’s place of origin are responsible, at least in the case of dangerous threats. At least one of them should be based in Germany.
Did the police react too laxly to the threats?
The police are defending themselves against allegations that they reacted too laxly to the threatening letters, which contained threats of extreme violence. The doctor had been advised by the police since November 2021, according to a statement. “In the weeks that followed, there were numerous other contacts and discussions. The police protective measures around the ordination were drastically increased. All legally possible measures were exhausted.” A complaint has now been lodged with the Economic and Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) in Vienna accusing the authorities of inaction.
The Upper Austrian Chamber of Physicians said the doctor had been offered all the help they could. A plan was only recently discussed as to how the continued existence of the practice – which Kellermayr had closed a few weeks ago – could be secured.
According to Kellermayr, he had bought security out of his own pocket for months. For appropriate precautions, such as a safe retreat, she paid around 100,000 euros, she wrote on her website.
“I believe that mourning together is good for a society,” said the initiator of the vigil in front of the cathedral, Daniel Landau, of the Austrian news agency APA. He knew Kellermayr personally, having only met her in her practice in mid-July. They also talked about the belief that this was important to the doctor, Landau said. On Monday evening the bells of St. Stephen’s Cathedral rang for her.
(In order to prevent copycat effects, dpa, in accordance with the press code, only reports on suicides with great reluctance and will therefore refrain from giving further details in this case as well.)