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Austrian court acquits far-right leader in corruption retrial

Austria’s ex-vice chancellor and far-right leader Heinz Christian Strache was not found guilty Tuesday (10 January) in a retrial of corruption case involving party donations by the owner a private hospital.

Strache, who was sentenced to a 15-month term in 2021 for Graft, resigned in 2019. A higher court however ordered Strache to be retried because text messages suggesting Strache’s innocence were not sufficiently considered.

His appeal was still pending but he didn’t spend any time in jail.

This case was about whether there was a quid-proquo in two donations to Freedom Party of EUR2,000 and EUR10,000, respectively by Walter Grubmueller. This happened before Sebastian Kurz’s conservatives and the FPO formed a coalition in December 2017.

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2018 saw a legislative change that allowed the clinic’s charges to be directly paid by Austrian social security for certain procedures. This is an important source of additional income.

According to APA the judge stated Tuesday that there was no evidence of corruption.

According to APA, the judge said that “If the state accepts donations from parties, one cannot assume that every donation was illegal.”


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Since 2019, Strache has been filmed fixing state contracts. He also raised allegations of corruption in Austrian politics. Kurz’s conservative coalition fell shortly after he resigned as vice-chancellor.

He was expelled and failed to bring another party to Vienna’s City Council.

Strache told reporters that he accepted the verdict of not guilty with one laughing and one crying eye after his Vienna criminal tribunal ruling.

Grubmueller was initially sentenced to a year in prison. Later, he was pronounced not guilty.

The Anti-Corruption Prosecutors continue to investigate Strache as part of a broad-based investigation into the video-sting.

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