He is convicted in the first trial of the so-called “Ibiza Cause”
The former Austrian federal vice chancellor and former president of the far-right Liberal Party (FPOE) of the Alpine republic Heinz-Christian Strache, was sentenced this Friday by the Vienna Court to a 15-month prison sentence for corruptibility, although he will be conditionally released. This is the first of a series of processes against the former populist leader within the plot of the so-called “Ibiza Cause”, a bribery scandal that forced his resignation as number two of the Austrian government in May 2019 and as leader of the FPOE, party from which he was expelled in December of that year. Along with Strache, the owner of the private Währing clinic, Walter Grubmüller, was sentenced for bribery to 12 months in prison, although he will also benefit from the probation regime. The conviction of both is related to two known donations from the businessman to the politician to the FPOE so that Strache could influence the disputes of his party in order to approve the entry of the private clinic into a publicly financed network.
“It has been clearly demonstrated and with evidence that this was the service in exchange for the donation of a wealthy friend,” said Judge Claudia Moravec-Loidolt during the reading of the sentence, a service, said the lawyer, that exclusively benefited the clinic private Währing and “did not take into account the interests of the rest of the private clinics in Austria.” The “Ibiza Cause” broke out two years ago with the publication of a video shot with a hidden camera in a private residence on the Balearic island in which Heinz-Christian Strache offered the alleged niece of a Russian oligarch all kinds of privileges at the time to do business in Austria if he financed his next election campaign in return. The appointment with the alleged billionaire turned out to be a trap that exposed the corruptibility of the populist leader. A few weeks later it was also learned that he had enjoyed a life of luxury at the expense of his party’s coffers, which led to his expulsion from the FPOE and political marginalization.
The scandal over the video shot in Ibiza blew up the government coalition led by conservative Sebastian Kurz and forced the holding of early elections in Austria. The recording has also been the key with which prosecutors and police investigators have opened a series of doors to expose a great plot of corruption, cronyism and bribery in the high political spheres of the Alpine republic in which several are involved. former Conservative and FPOE ministers, but also the current Finance Minister Gernot Blümel. Kurz himself is suspected of receiving generous donations on behalf of his party, suspected of being paid in exchange for political favors. The Austrian prime minister is also investigated by prosecutors for false testimony before the parliamentary commission in charge of finding out the ins and outs of the “Ibiza Cause”.