Austria Requests Commutation of Sentence

Austria considers an 835-year sentence for a white-collar crime to be inhumane. In Austria, financial crimes have a maximum sentence of 10 years, and with good-time credits would be much less. Therefore, when the United States requested Austria to extradite Sholam Weiss, Austria required assurances that would guarantee him every opportunity to have his sentence reduced, including a full re-sentencing, and the understanding that he would have the opportunity for conditional release from prison once he has paid his restitution.  Austria would not have extradited him without these assurances.


The European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Committee reviewed Mr. Weiss’ extradition, ultimately permitted extradition because the United States gave assurances that he would get a full appeal and a full re-sentencing.  See letter from European Court to Mr. Weiss’ attorney  and  Decision of UN Committee.   Mr. Weiss’ extradition was also raised in the European Parliamentary Assembly, also noting the assurances.  See  Parliamentary Assembly Response.


However, although Mr.  Weiss was extradited in 2002, he has not received a full re-sentencing.  And although his restitution has been paid in full, the government has made no attempt to seek his release.


Austria has repeatedly requested the United States to provide Mr. Weiss a commutation of sentence to time-served to satisfy international obligations.  Many of those letters are provided under “Letters of Support.”  The latest has been to President Trump.  Letter from Austrian Chancellor to President Trump, 2017.