Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz faces 3 years in prison if he lied under oath

Article about Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz faces 3 years in prison if he lied under oath

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Jul 15, 2021

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Wednesday that he is being investigated about possible false statements before the parliamentary commission to investigate corruption, the BNR (Bulgarian National Radio - ed.) Reports, citing AFP (Austrian Press Agency - ed.).

“I want to inform you that the prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation against the head of my cabinet, Bernhard Bonelli, and against me,” Kurz told reporters ahead of the cabinet meeting. Kurz denied any wrongdoing, stating, I have always answered all questions honestly (in front of the committee).

In an email to AFP, the prosecutors office confirmed the fact that the investigation was launched after several appeals to them. Recall that in Austria, perjury under oath is punishable by up to three years in prison. Opposition parties responded to the news on Wednesday, questioning Kurzs stance, but the 34-year-old chancellor insisted the investigation would not affect his work and he would not step down. The investigation comes after opposition Social Democrats (SPA) and representatives of the NEOS party accused Kurz of not telling the truth to a committee of MPs investigating the aftermath of the so-called Ibiza Gate scandal that overthrew Kurzs previous government in 2019.

Recall that in May 2019, the Ibiza Gate internal political scandal, erupted in the country, which led to the resignation of former Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache. The Austrian Freedom Party Strache then left the government coalition with the Austrian Peoples Party. The countrys parliament passed a vote of no confidence in the government headed by Kurz and was dismissed. Early parliamentary elections have been announced in the country.

Former vice-chancellor of the far-right Freedom Party (PS) Kurz Heinz-Christian Strache was forced to resign after a video appeared in which he offers services to a woman in a luxury villa in Ibiza (buying an Austrian publication and repairing roads in Austria under a state contract overpriced - ed.), which he considers the niece of the Russian oligarch in exchange for support (funding - ed.) in the election campaign. Since then, the parliamentary commission to investigate the scandal has expanded its focus to include other allegations of wrongdoing, including by politicians from Kurzs Peoples Party (NP). The investigation, announced Wednesday, concerns statements made by Kurz to the commission last year in which he denied any influence over the appointment of OeBAG CEO Thomas Schmid.

Contrary to this, the recently leaked correspondence between Kurz and Schmid contains text and video messages, made by Irena Markovic, suggesting that they did indeed discuss Schmids appointment and the addition of the OeBAG advisory board. In one of them, Kurtz wrote to Schmid: You get whatever you want, adding a few Kiss emoticons, to which Schmid replied: Im so happy :-))) I love my chancellor. On Wednesday, Kurz said he knew he was answering questions from the parliamentary committee under oath and was answering them honestly. He said it was difficult to memorize every date, every conversation, every part of every sentence with hings that you didnt think were important at the time.

Now the final stage of investigation is underway and party funding and other methods of NP are becoming more and more in the center of the committees attention. In February, the home of NP Finance Minister and Kurz ally Gernot Blumel was searched as part of a separate investigation into possible party funding violations. Then Kurz publicly criticized the operation and suggested changing the methods of work of the prosecutors office. The actions of the prosecutors office caused discontent with the judiciary and received accusations of disregard for the rule of law.

Articles authored by Jason Adams