Since around ten suspects in the political thriller around short friend Thomas Schmid have been determined, the debate about the Austrian leniency program has been raging. That’s what it’s all about: One of the parties involved tells everything to the public prosecutor – and in return receives mitigation or even freedom and support.
After all, one of the accused may already have broken their silence: the pollster Sabine Beinschab. She appears to have made a full confession after her arrest. This is at least how lawyers represented in the case interpret their release. However, Beinschab is unlikely to benefit from the leniency program that has been in force since 2011 – and neither will the other suspects.
Against leg scraping is namely already being determined. According to Austrian law, she should have given evidence in advance. With the corresponding Section 209a StPO is stated in the second paragraph: “To the extent that … has not yet been heard as a suspect and … no coercion has been exercised”. This means that not only Leg Schab is eliminated, but also all other suspects. “What remains is the considerable mitigating reason for the remorseful confession in the event of a conviction,” says the public prosecutor Gerhard Jarosch.
That is probably the reason why in Austria – unlike in other countries – there are hardly any key witnesses. Only the case of Gernot Schieszler was known. As the first key witness, the manager gave comprehensive testimony in the Telekom case. For this he received a diversion, so he had to pay, but unlike other people involved, he did not go to jail. The lack of legal certainty in the domestic leniency program is also criticized: If the chief witness is unlucky, the public prosecutor’s office will ultimately consider the statements to be inadequate. By the way: the leniency program expires at the end of the year, unless it is extended by parliament.