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Ex-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz convicted of perjury

  • Kurz found guilty of perjury
  • Corruption tarnishes political career
  • Public opposes Kurz’s return

In accordance with the terms of his suspended eight-month sentence, former Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz was found guilty of perjury by a Vienna court following a four-month trial.

The former leader, who was previously hailed as a “wunderkind” by European conservatives, denied diminishing his influence on the selection of executives for the state-owned company OBAG during his tenure as chancellor. In fact, it was his finance minister’s official duty to make those appointments.

His testimony to a parliamentary commission of inquiry that he was “involved in the sense of being informed” but did not actively participate in appointment-making, however, was the crux of Kurz’s corruption case.

Kurz’s Fall Amidst Corruption Trial

However, in accordance with the prosecution’s position that Kurz was the ultimate decision-maker, the court accepted this and presented evidence in the form of text messages and the testimony of the first chief of OBAG, former loyalist Thomas Schmid, who later testified as a state witness.

“This part of the ruling is extremely unjust,” Kurz stated following the decision. “We have filed an appeal, and I am extremely hopeful that we will prevail in the second instance of the court’s decision.”

The trial and other ongoing corruption investigations have tarnished the charismatic hardliner’s reputation and eliminated any opportunity for him to make a political comeback.

In 2017, Kurz, at the age of 31, became one of the world’s youngest leaders and established a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party (FPO).

In 2019, the coalition disintegrated amidst a controversy involving the leader of the FPO and a video capture. Subsequently, Kurz secured an emergency election victory and established a coalition with the Greens, an alliance that was terminated in 2021 as a result of the corruption inquiry.

His Austrian People’s Party, however, maintains its governing position under the current chancellor, Karl Nehammer.

Kurz has maintained that he did not deceive a parliamentary investigation into extensive corruption allegations that resulted in the downfall of his inaugural far-right government in 2019.

Kurz’s Battle Against Allegations

He portrayed himself as the target of selective prosecution and an opposition that sought to “destroy him” throughout the trial.

Kurz stated that although he had been duly apprised of Schmid’s appointment, he refuted any notions that he had attempted to exert control over the matter.

Schmid, on the other hand, testified that Kurz had established a “system” in which he possessed control over key enterprises and could veto the appointment of personnel.

Conversely, prosecutors continue to scrutinise Kurz on the grounds that he may have misappropriated public funds to finance manipulated polls designed to enhance his public image and compensate for the favourable media coverage that facilitated his triumph in 2017.

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Since the release of a video in 2019 allegedly showing Kurz’s then-vice chancellor of the FPO offering public contracts to a Russian investor in exchange for campaign support, they have been unable to secure any convictions thus far.

The conservatives have fallen to second or third place in the polls since leaving politics during an election year, increasing the likelihood that they will lose seats in a parliamentary election this year. This has sparked speculation that Kurz could ultimately return to lead the party and reverse its fortunes.

However, surveys indicate that an overwhelming majority of Austrians do not want him to return to the government. Kurz, on the other hand, has stated that he is content as a businessman and is currently engaged in a multitude of private international enterprises.

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