Austria: BAT-Enquiry Committee; Formality harbors explosives

Austria: BAT-Enquiry Committee; Formality harbors explosives

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VIENNA: According to the explosive statements made by the head of the extremism department in the BVT, the prosecutor Ursula Schmudermayer, who is responsible for the affair regarding the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the fight against terrorism, has spoken for the second time in the enquiry Committee on Thursday. There was a premiere:
At frist instance, a part of the survey was conducted “secretly”, because specially protected documents were discussed. A formal question should also be clarified during the meeting, which could be relevant for the remaining procedure.

The ÖVP and NEOS are assuming that the charges vouched by the Ministry of the Interior was not properly released from official secrecy. Schmudermayer rejected that. But if that was true, the statements – which led only to the house search by the protection of the Constitution – would be void by law. According to the Code of Criminal Procedure (paragraph 155), civil servants may only be questioned about circumstances subject to official secrecy; if they have previously been set free from obligation of discretion. At least the written confirmation of this release took place in the case of the four witnesses mediated by the Ministry only after the first interviews.

“Expected that the Federal Ministry of Interior released her from official secrecy”

It is now disputed whether there was an oral release in advance. Schmudermayer says yes, ÖVP parliamentary leader Werner Amon assumed that he could prove the opposite with the committee present secret e-mails. Schmudermayer emphasized:
“The Federal Ministry of Interior made these witnesses known to me and therefore I certinally assumed that the BMI as an employer has released these witnesses from official secrecy.” Incidentally, the Code of Criminal Procedure (clause 78) also contains a duty to inform civil servants, when they become aware of unlawful facts: “official secrecy is not intended to prevent the investigation of criminal offenses.”

House search also brought to a “random finding”

FPÖ parliamentary leader Hans-Jörg Jenewein was confirmed by Schmudermayer that the house search by the BVT has also led to “coincidence finds”. However, not, as Jenewein guessed, in the context of bullying and sexual harassment. Rather, photos were found from an accused, due to which the public prosecutor’s office Vienna was asked to clarify the suspicion of incitement and Nazi re-operation.

Prosecutor did not know that Preiszler is not formally EGS boss

The public prosecutor has been informed by Peter Pilz that the head of the raid, the FPÖ local politician Wolfgang Preiszler, is not formally head of the EGS police unit entrusted with the case, he is the chief of the EGS. Schmudermayer did not know this according to their own statements and said that if this was deliberately interpreted wrongly, that would have been a deception, but: “The question is whether this deception is relevant to my content.”

The prosecutor also explain why the office of Head of Unit for (legal) extremism was searched. The target of the search was not Sybille G. herself, but an accused ex-colleague with whom she had e-mail contact. Because they had suspected that their PO box was not found in BAT anymore, he was tracing the Sybille G. emails. That one could find something at Sybille G., Schmudermayer was informed by one of the witnesses of the bureau of the minister. Whether something process-relevant was found, remained open – at least the seized data

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