Austrian justice condemns former Chancellor Kurz for false testimony in Parliament | International

This Friday, a judge found former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz guilty of perjury before a parliamentary committee and gave him an eight-month prison sentence (suspended sentence on condition that he does not commit another crime). As the magistrate in charge of the case concluded after the trial in Vienna, the former conservative leader lied during his testimony before parliamentarians in June 2020 about his intervention aimed at placing a close collaborator in the management of the consortium of Öbag State. Kurz, 37, has always denied the accusation and accused opposition MPs of having “distorted” his statements in the commission that analyzed the so-called Ibiza scandal and the hookup cases of the Austrian administration. The sentence, which he described as “very unfair”, is subject to appeal. The former leader is being investigated for corruption in a second case.

Kurz rose to the political top at just 31 years old, becoming chancellor in 2017, after serving in the Austrian Foreign Ministry and taking the reins of the Christian Democratic ÖVP party. He formed a controversial government coalition with the far-right FPÖ, which collapsed just a year and a half later due to the scandal of Case of Ibiza. The disclosure of a video recorded with a hidden camera on the Spanish island in which his then partner in the executive, former ultra leader Heinz-Christian Strache, offered public contracts to an alleged niece of ‘a Russian tycoon in exchange for electoral support and possible illegal financing cost him his job. But the scandal mainly affected the FPÖ and Kurz, then a rising star among European conservatives, won the snap elections soon after and formed a new government, this time with the Greens as a minority partner.

However, investigations launched after Case of Ibiza They still haunt him today. The Greens forced his departure in October 2021 after the prosecution opened a corruption investigation against him by placing him at the center of a plot, with nine other relatives, aimed at financing favorable media coverage with public money as his look. false investigations. At that time, he was also accused of perjury before the parliamentary committee on Case of Ibiza.

Kurz eventually left politics to pursue business, although he never completely left the public eye. His party remained in power led by Karl Nehammer and with the same coalition with the Greens, but the conservatives have continued to fall in the polls in the run-up to the legislative elections which must take place later this autumn, and are in the lead for the far right, now led by Herbert Kickl. The decline of the ÖVP has sparked repeated speculation about a possible return to the front line for Kurz, although he has so far denied that he intends to lead the conservatives again. The proceedings against him jeopardize his possible return to politics.

In June 2020, Kurz testified under oath before a parliamentary committee regarding allegations of corruption arising from the Ibiza video. He was questioned about his involvement in the election of leaders of the public consortium Öbag, which is officially the responsibility of his finance minister. Kurz said he was “involved in the sense of being informed” but did not play an active role in the nominations. The prosecution, however, concluded that he had lied to parliamentarians by trying to minimize his role in the appointment as head of the Öbag of Thomas Schmid, one of his close collaborators at the Ministry of Finance with whom he had exchanged SMS messages according to which the prosecution has now used against the former chancellor.

Kurz’s defense tried to undermine the credibility of Schmid, who also became a prosecution witness in the corruption case that forced the former head of government to resign and in which no specific charges have yet been brought against him, although listed as investigated.

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In his judgment, the judge of the Vienna Regional Court considered it proven that the head of government at the time had exercised greater influence than he had admitted to the commission of inquiry, when he had assured that he had not actively intervened. He was therefore found guilty of one charge of perjury, while he was acquitted of two others. Alongside Kurz, his former chief of staff, Bernhard Bonelli, was also convicted of the same crime and sentenced to a six-month prison term, the execution of which is also suspended.

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