The Austrian business and corruption prosecutor’s office is an interesting authority. The WKStA does not only enjoy a certain interest because of its notorious lack of success. Investigations (this time against Novomatic) were recently discontinued. The WKStA also attracted attention because of comical shouts of joy in connection with the TV appearance of a known busybody and because of the many files that always seem to be going straight from the copier to the same media. The literary skills of the officials are also remarkable. WKStA comments on the display of an alleged false statement by ex-Chancellor Kurz read like a dark passage from the Lord of the Rings.
Prosecutors have never been part of the independent judiciary. As is well known, these are only the judges. One of the most serious crises of the public prosecutors was the now almost forgotten case involving the public prosecutor Klothilde Eckbrecht-Dürckheim. Party-political parallels to today are striking. Kurier and profil wrote at the time of “… the most serious post-war crisis in the republic”. Miss Dr. Eckbrecht-Dürckheim resigned from the public prosecutor’s office at the end of 1975 and became an investigating judge at the Vienna Regional Court.
The reason for the uproar in the public prosecutor’s office was described in the magazine profil (No. 51/75), which was still widely read at the time, as follows: “Those who were not able to bring their proceedings to the well-deserved rest at the preliminary investigation stage come before the judge. The best public prosecutors in the country are no longer ruthless prosecutors, but merciful adjusters.” So while today Hinz, Kunz and Kurz and everyone else on the right of the political center are being persecuted by the WKStA, the method was different back then, but the goal was the same. Orders to close cases left of the political center were constantly being issued.
About this profile: “And if you [Anm.: die Prozesse] but come about or even end with a conviction of the accused, that is no longer a reason for a star defense attorney to give up: When a public prosecutor came to a hearing before the judge Dr. Wolfgang Kirschner filed an appeal because the sentence was too lenient, defense attorneys … gave free rein to his anger in front of the assembled court: … I go to Otto F. Müller, who withdraws the appeal.” Profil emphasized several times in the same article that everything was within the law, because the journalists’ fear of the then Red Minister of Justice Christian Broda was justified.
Otto F. Müller, head of the public prosecutor’s office with the best connections to the dark red Minister Broda, had given instructions to stop investigations or proceedings that had been started by his public prosecutors. If a prosecutor – such as Dr. Franz Fiedler – to the defense and noted that it had to be investigated quickly, because otherwise there was a risk of the statute of limitations, the matter was stalled with vague justifications such as “… only at most there would be a statute of limitations”.
An unspecified disgruntled prosecutor let off steam in one conversation: “I spend a quarter of my time solving crimes. I have to fight three-quarters of my time to be able to accuse them.”
In his first term of office under Chancellor Kreisky, Minister Broda still gave written instructions. Embarrassingly, this made some interventions public, such as the dropping of a fraud case against a socialist academic. Later, the notorious old communist and schemer Broda became more cautious. After a political fiasco in the fight with the Kronenzeitung, which was still widely read at the time, he no longer wrote any instructions. That was no longer necessary because Broda’s official apparatus was on autopilot. If necessary, a small hint, which no official was allowed to ignore, would suffice.
In the 1970s, the public prosecutor’s office in Vienna (the WKStA did not exist yet) was a party-politically left playground for Broda and Müller. The last straw was an incident involving a pre-trial detainee whose applications for release had been rejected several times by investigating judges. On the instruction of Dr. Müller, the prisoner should still be released. Prosecutor Eckbrecht noted the instruction in the file, but was certain that no judge would agree to a dismissal. dr Müller knew that and waited for the late afternoon. After all the examining judges had gone home, Müller sent a messenger to the Vienna Regional Court with the application for release from custody. There sat a young and naive journal judge who had never heard of the “Causa Abbas R.”. Without looking at the file and believing he was doing the right thing, he signed it. The detainee went free. Miss Dr. Eckbrecht, according to the Kurier Austria’s “most successful and well-informed prosecutor” had a tantrum and said goodbye.
Doesn’t that sound familiar? Even today, WKStA prosecutors know who are “the good guys” and who are “the bad guys”. They investigate “the bad guys,” spare the “good guys,” and bid the moment the right moment for an unsuspecting journal judge to sign off, no questions asked. Should judges nevertheless pass judgments that are not politically acceptable, there are honorable journalists who know how to attack the judiciary, which is unfortunately free from instructions.
The public prosecutors of the WKStA are doing everything right. Falter journalists and ZiB editors know that. The “ordinary” prosecutors, Liverpool fans would call them “the normal one”, are investigating in the case of Egisto O. (“Alpen-007”) against non-left contemporaries. Recently, even the Greens have had to tremble in the Chorherr case, and in the trial against the notorious filmmaker from Ibiza, the judges remained consistent, although the Falter editor-in-chief begged fervently for the alleged civil society superhero to be spared. In the fight for good and against evil, there must be no compromises. Attitude journalists know this.