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Austria Table of Contents


Military Justice

Sections 533 to 684 of the national criminal code deal with military offenses; there is no separate military code of justice, and there is no legal (judge advocate) organization in the armed forces. All actions in serious criminal cases involving military personnel, except those related to breaches of military discipline, are remanded to civil courts. The same holds true in wartime, although specific courts would be designated for military cases. Although no military person can be tried twice on the same charge, he can appear before an all-military disciplinary commission to be judged on purely military aspects of a crime.

For example, if a military person is accused of murder on an army base, military authorities notify the civil police, and the accused is taken into civil custody and tried before a civil court. The investigation, court, judges, and legal personnel are the same as those involved had the incident occurred among civilians. If the court finds the defendant guilty, it may sentence him to life imprisonment. The defendant is then called before a military disciplinary commission made up of military personnel. Commission members include, among others, servicemen of the same rank and from the same branch as the accused. The commission does not reconsider evidence relating to the crime, but it divests the defendant of his military rank, dishonorably discharges him from the service, and forfeits his pay and allowances up to the time of the action. Disciplinary commissions at the level of the Ministry for National Defense have professional lawyers on, or acting as advisers to, the commission; those at lower organizational levels ordinarily do not.

Unit discipline complies with accepted practice in nearly all armed forces. Infractions of the code of military discipline (military-specific offenses such as absence without leave or insubordination) are taken care of by company commanders if the appropriate punishment is a reprimand, extra duty, confinement to quarters, or the like. Battalion and brigade commanders can hand down somewhat more severe punishments, such as reduction in grade or confinement to base guardhouses for short periods.

Data as of December 1993