VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian prosecutors are investigating young soldiers seen exchanging Hitler salutes in a video that appeared on the Internet, Defense Minister Norbert Darabos said on Tuesday.
In a statement, Darabos said suspects had been tracked down and were being questioned over the incident in an army barracks in Salzburg, captured by a mobile-phone camera and posted on the video-sharing Web site YouTube.
Any display of Nazi propaganda or symbols is a crime in Austria, which took decades to acknowledge it was more a willing party than a victim of Nazi Germany’s Third Reich.
In the video shown on YouTube before being removed, a young man in army uniform goose-steps past and stretches out his right arm in a Hitler salute. A second, shaven-headed soldier does the same, shouting: “Heil Hitler!”
“There is zero tolerance for such actions. Those involved will have to answer to the army and the law and take the consequences,” said Darabos, a Social Democrat. State prosecutors had launched an investigation at his request.
The Austrian news agency APA quoted Colonel Gerhard Funk at the Salzburg barracks as saying the two soldiers had been interrogated and two others seen in the video watching the spectacle would be questioned as well.
The incident came to light during a visit by Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer to Israel.
Such Nazi-style acts are punishable in the Alpine republic by up to 10 years in prison.
Salzburg prosecutor Karl Rene Fuerlinger said that whether charges would be filed would depend on whether the perpetrators intended to spread Nazi ideas via the video.
“Did these soldiers want to win over others to their convictions or was this perhaps just a drunken party?” he said.