“First you make him look ridiculous, then the scandal comes through the ‘real’ media – and finally the criminalization with reports to the judiciary, house searches and investigations by the public prosecutors”, explains a long-time political advisor the often heard strategy of an ex-colleague, who was also hired and paid by the SPÖ. Tal Silberstein, who was arrested in 2017, said that himself in a 2002 TV documentary: At the time, he supported the candidate Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada against Evo Morales, who was defeated in the race for the presidency and only became president four years later, in Stanley Greenberg’s team.
Austria has been experiencing a tsunami of preliminary investigations since May 2019, since the appearance of the few short excerpts from the Ibiza video, almost all of them run against ÖVP or FPÖ politicians. The exception: the indictment against the former Green politician Christoph Chorherr.
The lawyers of the Economic and Corruption Public Prosecutor’s Office (WKStA) do the main part of the investigative work: Even ex-Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, as well as the former FPÖ Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, the ex-Finance Ministers Gernot Blümel and Josef Pröll, as well as numerous are in their sights Employees of these former members of the government.
This quantity of law enforcement activity has meanwhile massive consequences for the good reputation of the judiciary: Many Austrians can only shake their head at the fact that five of the ten criminal proceedings against HC Strache have already had to be closed.
Just as irritating: the three preliminary investigations against the President of the National Council, Wolfgang Sobotka, and the embarrassment of the complete suspension of the surveys. Even the shredder affair, jazzed up by some media that always support the WKStA, ended without charges against the ÖVP employee, who had been accused for months.
“A committee of inquiry should also be set up via the WKStA: Has it always acted objectively? Has she broken any laws? Has she taken account of what is exonerating in accordance with the regulations? How did illegal leaks come about? Aren’t there any official offenses to be investigated automatically? ”, Says the social and economic scientist Theo Faulhaber in a current guest commentary in the“ Kurier ”.
And an ÖVP politician says: “Of course, the role of the Justice Minister as the superior of the public prosecutors with authority to issue instructions must also be investigated – she should be questioned in front of a committee of inquiry about the many strange processes in the public prosecutor’s office, with the key employees of the WKStA summoned as informants will.” The politician does not want to use his name “on this issue”: “That might have unpleasant consequences for me too. Yes, it is shocking that we have come this far in this country. “
The fear of the WKStA and its public prosecutors is understandable – in the meantime, investigations that eventually ended in the sand have already destroyed political careers, placed extremely burdens on many families and caused huge legal fees.
The best example: Heinz-Christian Strache. His attempt to make a political comeback in the 2019 Vienna election was destroyed with a targeted leaked character assassination from the investigation into the party expenses procedure (medication bill, amulet fairy tale, etc.). The costs for his legal representation are no longer manageable in the many investigative proceedings, Strache even had to ask for donations on Facebook.
The constant psychological stress and the lack of any chance for a reasonably good job destroyed the family, his wife has separated from him. Despite five suspended investigations, the ex-vice chancellor remains on his legal fees – the republic pays nothing back, even if their prosecutors have wrongly accused someone and were wrong.
By the way: All the investigations against Strache that were started with the media hype of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, the ORF and the “Krone” have already been discontinued, nothing of criminal relevance remained. Curious about it: video sequences, which could very well burden other personalities massively, have so far been blacked out and not shown …
A parliamentary committee of inquiry could also bring up another topic that is important for hygiene in the republic: the alleged proximity of certain small media to the WKStA. “It’s always the same process: the otherwise insignificant regional newspaper X receives confidential files, reports in the interests of the public prosecutors of an ‘unbelievable scandal’ and ensures the nationwide dissemination in ORF and thus via the APA with the best contacts to left-leaning journalists” , the ÖVP politician also wants the people involved in the U-Committee to testify under the obligation of truth.
The ÖVP could initiate the committee of inquiry into the work and the procedure of the Justice Minister without the Green coalition partner: A quarter of the members of the National Council would have to approve the application – the ÖVP holds 71 of the 183 seats in the National Council.