Austria hears first lawsuit over ski resort outbreak

The first civil lawsuit started in a court docket in Vienna at the moment over an outbreak of coronavirus at a well-liked ski resort final yr, the place hundreds of individuals from 45 international locations declare to have change into contaminated.

The case is the first of 15 lawsuits filed by plaintiffs from Austria and Germany, accusing the authorities of not responding shortly sufficient to Covid-19 outbreaks in Ischgl and different resorts within the province of Tyrol.

It is being introduced on behalf of Sieglinde and Ulrich Schopf, the widow and son of 72-year-old Hannes Schopf, who died after contracting the virus in Ischgl.

Ms Schopf was not current in Vienna's Palace of Justice this morning however her son Ulrich sat alongside the authorized staff bringing their case.

Lawyer Alexander Klauser, appearing for the Schopf household and the VSV client group serving to them carry their circumstances, advised the court docket that Ms Schopf "still suffers every day" with the psychological results of her husband's demise.

He added that Ulrich Schopf felt "rage" at these he held accountable for his father's demise and that his four-year-old son now needed to develop up with out a grandfather.

During a break in proceedings, Mr Schopf advised reporters an important factor within the trial was getting "justice" for victims and their households.

The Schopf household is suing the Republic of Austria for €100,000.

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Mr Schopf stated that he would donate any compensation, more than likely to the Caritas charity that his father supported when he was alive.

He added he had the impression that authorities wished to "brush the whole thing under the carpet".

Politics at play

Judge Catrin Aigner closed at the moment's listening to after greater than three hours, rejecting requests from the plaintiff's legal professionals to name witnesses.

She stated she would give a written judgement at later date, with out specifying when.

Mr Klauser had wished to query witnesses over the assorted official shortcomings that the plaintiffs say allowed Ischgl and the encompassing space to change into a virus hotspot.

He pointed to the "influence of the tourism sector on Tyrol politics" and the monetary injury that will have been suffered by tourism companies if more durable motion had been taken earlier.

Mr Klauser requested why the well being ministry in Vienna didn’t seal off the valley round Ischgl earlier, or a minimum of put out a journey warning for the world.

He additionally raised the query of why Chancellor Sebastian Kurz didn’t warn different related officers when the world was ultimately put underneath quarantine.


The sudden quarantine order was additionally criticised, sparking chaos as hundreds of individuals all of a sudden tried to depart the world.

Ms Schopf's stated her husband, a retired journalist and avid skier, caught the virus in the course of the panicked evacuation by bus, filled with different vacationers who have been sneezing and coughing.

In an interview earlier this yr she stated her "entire world shattered into pieces" when her husband died.

"I can't forgive myself, because in the end, I sent him to his death," as she had inspired him to take the break, she stated.

In addition to the 15 lawsuits, one other 30 folks have introduced compensation claims to the Austrian authorities, Mr Klauser stated earlier this week.

Of the 6,000 individuals who declare to have contracted the virus in Ischgl and the encompassing space, 5% endure from signs of lengthy Covid, together with complications, sleep disturbance and shortness of breath, the VSV affiliation stated. In complete, 32 folks have died.

While expressing sympathy for the victims and their family, authorities have denied they acted too slowly or that any extra may have been accomplished on the time.

Five folks, together with 4 native officers, have been positioned underneath investigation in Innsbruck over the outbreak however there isn’t any indication whether or not felony costs will ultimately be filed.

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