Austrian chancellor probed for false testimony

The Austrian judiciary is investigating Chancellor Sebastian Kurz for possible false testimony before a parliamentary committee into a sting operation that toppled a previous government, he himself announced on Wednesday cited by the dpa. The news was confirmed by the Public Prosecutor's Office for Economic Affairs and Corruption spokesperson.

The parliamentary committee of inquiry is investigating alleged trading in political posts and the possible influence of party donations on political decisions during the time of the previous government, which was made up of Kurz's Austrian People's Party (OeVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe).

The covert video sting shows former FPOe leader Heinz-Christian Strache in a villa on the Spanish island of Ibiza in 2017 talking with a woman posing as a wealthy Russian donor about political funding, and about ways to gain control over Austrian media and infrastructure. When German media made the video public in May 2019, Strache stepped down as vice chancellor, and Kurz ended their coalition.

According to the complaint, which was made available to dpa, the chancellor and his head of Cabinet had denied in committee that there had been political collusion in the appointment of Kurz confidant Thomas Schmid as head of the state holding company OeBAG. According to NEOS party, however, the public prosecutor's office has chat transcripts that prove the opposite.

Kurz said he is not thinking of resigning, even in the event of a conviction, the chancellor told journalists: "Honestly, I cannot imagine that with the best effort in the world." He said he had always tried to answer the questions in parliament truthfully. He criticized the fact that in the committee of inquiry attempts were made to twist words around in people's mouths and to "somehow force them into giving false testimony."

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