Austria: False statement trial; Ex-Chancellor Kurz found guilty


Former Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) has been found guilty in the false statement trial and sentenced to eight months’ conditional imprisonment! His former head of cabinet Bernhard Bonelli received a conditional prison sentence of six months for the same offence. The defence intends to appeal. The judgements are therefore not legally binding.

There were also acquittals on certain points, such as the appointment to the Management Board of the state holding company ÖBAG. The custodial sentences will be suspended after a probationary period of three years.

Judge Michael Radasztics justified the judgement with the following words: “You can’t say that if seven witnesses testify in favour of a defendant and one against, then you add them up like in a football match.” In the direction of the main defendant, the judge said: “You played down your actual role in the appointment of the ÖBAG supervisory board and also how much you were involved. You gave false testimony.”

With regard to the argument repeatedly put forward by the defence that there was a lack of testimony, the judge explained that although the supervisory board members questioned had all testified to the same thing, “we do not know what other people have discussed beforehand, so their statements should be treated with caution”.

Schmid’s status as a key witness “not yet established”

The judge found the statements of the main prosecution witness Thomas Schmid to be credible in their entirety. He had never minimised his own actions, “and you cannot accuse him of wanting to harm Kurz at all costs.” The questioning of the two Russians had not damaged his credibility either. Incidentally, Schmid’s application for crown witness status is “not yet through”.