Just two years after stepping down from Freedom Party (FPÖ) leadership, Austria’s former vice chancellor is on trial for corruption charges.
Heinz-Christian Strache’s trial began Tuesday at a court in Austria’s capital Vienna. The trial will last four days. Strache is accused of manipulating the law to favour a private hospital in exchange for donations.
Within court, it was mentioned that he accepted an estimated £8,500 for his party in exchange for a legal amendment that was to benefit the donor’s private hospital by bringing it under a public funding umbrella.
The accused is going through a prosecution process that could attract a conviction, of at most six years in prison. His lawyers told the press that they will not give any public statements as the trial continues.
Mr. Strache is alleged to be part of the fall of the previous Austrian government, which was an alliance of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservative Austrian People’s Party and the Freedom Party.
A video of Strache, showing evidence of his discussions to accept donations went viral in 2019. In the video, recorded in 2017 in Ibiza, Spain, Mr. Strache and his party’s deputy leader Johann Gudenus met Alyona Makarova, who posed as Mr. Makarov’s niece.
The video, recorded secretly, showed the two men receiving positively the idea of illegal donations and positive news coverage in return for government contracts. Mr. Strache has since denied the contents of the video, alleging that it was manipulated.
The arrest of one of Austria’s former prominent leaders, shows that governments are tired of corruption and the anti-graft war is not only Kenyan but global, being fought to ensure integrity in dealings by governments.